Center woman accused of beating baby to death claimed she was unaware of child's injuries

Shakeitha Cartwright (Source: Center Police Department)
Shakeitha Cartwright (Source: Center Police Department)
Keilly Hoyt
Keilly Hoyt

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - During the second of the capital murder trial of a Center woman accused of beating her 5-month-old baby to death, the prosecution played a police video of an interview of Shakeitha Cartwright in which she expressed surprise at the multiple broken bones her child had.

When investigators told Cartwright, 30, that both of little Keilly Hoyt's arms were broken, she told them, "I never noticed anything."

Shakeitha Cartwright, 30, of Center faces life in prison. Police allege that on Jan.16,2013, Keilly Hoyt died from multiple injuries she suffered from abuse by Cartwright.

According to the affidavit, Center police arrived at the home, located on the 1200 block of Shelbyville Street, and saw Cartwright on the front porch holding 5-month-old Keilly Hoyt. EMS took Keilly to the Center hospital while police spoke to Cartwright.

The affidavit continues stating that Cartwright said she woke up with Keilly at 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. She said she went to check on Keilly at 9:20 a.m., and saw her lying on her stomach in the bassinet.

EMS then called police and said the child had bruising which looked suspicious. An officer arrived at the hospital and saw the baby had a bruised left eye, multiple small puncture marks consistent with bite marks, signs of dehydration, and bruises all over her body.

The officer reported seeing a large bruised area on the back of the child in the buttock area and wounds on both sides of Keilly's buttocks, as well as bruises on the soles of her feet.

An X-ray showed Keilly had multiple broken bones, including both femurs, both forearms, both shoulders, and her jaw.

At the home, detectives searched the bedroom and found that the bassinet Keilly had been sleeping in appeared to have a vomit stain. The padding had some type of stain on it and was not covered by a fitted sheet. A detective found a fitted sheet in a pile of dirty clothes and saw a red stain on it which matched the stain on the padding. The detective also found several blankets and clothing which appeared to have blood stains.

Detectives later interviewed Cartwright, who admitted to losing her temper and picking up Keilly and shaking her, according to the affidavit. She also said she had picked Keilly up and forcibly threw her into the child safety seat in the living room, according to the affidavit. She also said she did not know how Keilly suffered the broken arms and legs. She did admit to biting Keilly on the feet, hitting her on the arms, slapping her in the mouth, and squeezing her shoulders together, according to the affidavit.

Officials removed three other children living in Cartwright's home. CPS spokesperson Sherri Pulliam said an 11-year-old girl, 9-year-old girl, and an 18-month-old boy also lived in the home on the 1200 block of Shelbyville Street. Pulliam said there has been no history of abuse reported to CPS before the incident with Keilly.

Wednesday's testimony started with the last witness from Tuesday; Detective Nicole Faulkner.

Faulkner agreed with Florence that Cartwright's statement changed over the course of two interviews.

Florence would then start a DVD that contained a 3 and a half hour long interview of her and another investigator with Cartwright.

On the DVD played for the jury, Cartwright would describe the events from the morning the Keilly died.

Cartwright to investigators that she first woke up at 3:40 a.m. Cartwright said that she heard the baby make a grunting noise, but she never actually started crying. Cartwright said that at 4 a.m. the baby would wake up and start crying.

"I fed her and she went back to sleep pretty fast," Cartwright said.

Cartwright continued and said that she woke her three other children at 5:30 a.m. Cartwright said that she usually would wake up Keilly then but decided to let her sleep since she was up a little early.

Cartwright said that by 9 a.m. she hadn't woke up again, so she went to wake her up.

"I got in there and she was on her stomach," Cartwright said. "She was pale and blue."

Cartwright continued and told investigators that she removed her from the bassinet and took her to the dresser and started CPR.

In the video, the investigators changed the conversation to the day was Keilly was born. Cartwright said that the baby was born premature and weighed just over one pound when she was born. Cartwright said that despite the baby being born early, she thought the baby's health was good. She said Keilly would sleep for about 12 hours a day. Cartwright told investigators that she did not know she was dehydrated.

"I saw the lips were dry, but I didn't think she was dehydrated," Cartwright said.

Later, the investigators asked Cartwright about Keilly's multiple injuries.

Investigators would next ask about the multiple injuries that Keilly suffered.

First they asked about the swollen eye. Cartwright said that she did not notice her eye swollen until that morning.

"It was black this morning," Cartwright said in the video. "Yesterday it was puffy. My daughter said that my [18 month old] son might have hit her."

Continuing, the investigators asked the Cartwright  about the small bite marks on Keilly's feet. The baby's mother believed there were rats in the house before they moved in. Cartwright said that she would not be by Keilly and would hear her cry and thought it was strange.

"I went to go check on her, and I thought I felt a rat run by my feet," Cartwright said in the video. "I didn't see anything."

When talking about the broken shoulder, Cartwright said that she told the baby's father, Ellis Hoyt that she thought something was wrong with the shoulder, but he said nothing was wrong, so she left it alone.

When asked about one broken arm, Cartwright said she didn't think it was broken.

"Maybe it was just me thinking it was messed up, but she would move her hand, so I left it alone," Cartwright said in the video.

Cartwright then said that she thought maybe the injuries to her arms could have happened when she let her oldest daughter change her clothes.

When investigators told Cartwright that both arms were broken, Cartwright seemed surprised by the news.

"Really?" Cartwright said in the video. "I never noticed anything."

When investigators told her the arm was severely deformed, Cartwright said that she should have paid more attention to it. When asked about the broken legs, Cartwright said she knew they were swollen, but she didn't think they were broken.

Cartwright continued to be surprised when she was told that the ribs of the baby were broken.

"Her ribs are broke?" Cartwright said. "I had no idea about the ribs being broken."

Cartwright told investigators that she did drop the baby off of the couch a few weeks earlier, but the baby never cried or seemed to be in pain.

"I never thought she was hurt," Cartwright said. "I thought it was because she was hungry, so I would feed her. If something happened, then I don't know."

Cartwright would then go on and say it is possible that her youngest son could have hurt Keilly. She said that other than two close friends, no one else watched her child ,and that she knows those people would not have hurt her.

"I could not hurt my kids," Cartwright said. "So I guess someone is lying to me about not hurting her."

During the video, the investigators also asked about an incident with the baby's father.

Cartwright said in the video that on Thanksgiving that she got in an argument with Ellis about something his sister said to her.

"I got mad and stormed out," Cartwright said. " I grabbed a knife on the way out. I did it just to scare him. I wasn't going to do nothing."

Cartwright then answered questions about having Keilly. Cartwright said that she was unexpected.

"Me and Ellis had a talk about abortion, because I was offered this good job, but he talked me out of it, so I had the baby," Cartwright said.

During the interview, Cartwright stressed that she would never abuse her child.

"I cannot do that," Cartwright said. "I couldn't do that."

The Center Police investigators gradually started asking harder questions. At one point, they said they thought Cartwright  was taking out her aggression on the child.

"No I did not do that," Cartwright said.

Faulkner said she thought this was done because Ellis had told her that he was going to move out and stay with his other girlfriend.

"He's lying," Cartwright said. "I can't believe he is lying. He told me we were going to stay together."

Later in the interview, Cartwright told the investigators that she knew Keilly was hurt, but she was scared to take her baby to the hospital because she thought she would get reported to the police. In the video, the investigators showed Cartwright multiple photos of Keilly's injuries. However, she continued to say she didn't know what happened.

Cartwright did admit to investigators that she shook Keilly once.

"I was trying to clean the house," Cartwright said. "The baby was crying and [my son] was complaining in the other ear and I was fed up," Cartwright said. "So I grabbed her and pushed her; telling her to stop crying. I didn't think that I pushed her hard enough to break her ribs."

The investigators told Cartwright that she did not care about Keilly.

"Yes, I do," Cartwright said. "I didn't shake her."

The investigators asked her about the blood found on the sheets, to which Cartwright said she is not sure how the blood got there but admitted it could have been from Keilly's dried lips.

Investigators continued to question Cartwright about the black eye, broken ribs, two broken legs, two broken arms rat bites on her hands and feet and the dehydration. In the video Cartwright said that she cared for her child, but just didn't care as much as she should have.

Cartwright said she was not happy with the living conditions and was looking for a better place to stay for her and the children.

Faulkner told Cartwright that it would have been easier trying to find a house for three kids and not four, to which Cartwright said that is not true and she wanted all four kids.

Investigators asked Cartwright about how she disciplined her children. Cartwright said that she would only use her hands or a belt. Cartwright said that there were times that she thought about spanking baby Keilly.

"There would be times it crossed my mind, but I would leave the room," Cartwright said. "I would say, 'no, she's a five-month-old."

Cartwright said she felt like the child needed the whooping because she was whining a lot and it was getting on her nerves.

Investigators would then switch the questioning back to the injuries that the baby suffered. Cartwright recalled the burn marks saying that the house was cold and she had a heater on.

"[my youngest boy] was playing with the cord," Cartwright said. "The heater fell and landed by the baby, causing the burns."

Faulkner would bring up the blood in the bassinet, to which Cartwright said that she didn't know where the blood came from. Faulkner asked Cartwright to explain the 10-15 articles that had blood on them.

"I wasn't trying to hide the clothes," Cartwright said. "They were in the bag I call the laundry bag. They needed to be washed."

Faulkner next asked why she did not take the car seat to the hospital with her. Cartwright said her mind was going crazy and she wasn't thinking at that time. Faulkner countered saying she thought that Cartwright left it because she knew Keilly would not be coming home. Cartwright again said she knows what this looks like, but all she was worried about was getting to the hospital.

Cartwright said the only injuries she knew about was the shoulder area, one of the arms and the swollen eye.

When the investigators asked about the diarrhea, Cartwright said she didn't know it was that bad. Investigators claimed that this wasn't true because the buttocks of the child was so bad. Investigators also asked about the child's genital area being disfigured. Cartwright said it was always like that and she just thought it was like that and never saw a need to go to the hospital to have it checked.

Cartwright then asked the investigators what was going to happen to her. Cartwright would continue to say she didn't kill her baby.

"Can I have a Bible to put my hand on while I say I didn't [kill my baby]?" Cartwright said.

Faulkner said that what will happen next is that 12 people will see this interview in court and that they won't believe what she was saying.

"I know they won't," Cartwright said. "But I didn't kill my baby."

Faulkner also told Cartwright she would be going to the penitentiary.

"Why," Cartwright said. "I didn't kill my baby ... the truth is that you want me to kill my baby."

Towards the end of the interview, Cartwright said, "It's frustrating with [Keilly] whining all of the time. These injuries happened because I was frustrated."

The investigators asked if Cartwright had ever cried that day. Cartwright said she did cry several times that day, to which Faulkner said she didn't believe her.

Later in Wednesday's testimony, defense attorney Rudy Velasquez cross-examined Faulkner. He asked the detective about the interview process, and she said they offered Cartwright food and drink several times, but she declined.

During his cross examination, Velasquez pointed out that Faulkner asked Cartwright what happened 35 times during the course of the police interview. He said, each time, Cartwright said, "I didn't kill my baby." Faulkner agreed with that assessment.

Velasquez argued that it isn't fair to put Cartwright on trial for capital murder because she never changed her story.

At that point, Velasquez pulled out two pairs of diapers - one a premature diaper and one a regular diaper. When the defense attorney asked Faulkner if she could remember which type of diaper Keilly had on, the detective said she couldn't and added that the diaper was full of waste.

The jury also heard testimony from Sabine County Sheriff's Deputy Kevin Windam about the 3-hour interview he and Faulkner did with Cartwright. At the time, he was working for the Center Police Department.

Windham said after they talked to Cartwright for three hours, they provided her with a written statement. He also said that he explained the possible charges to Cartwright and told her there was no possible way that she didn't know about Keilly's injuries.

"I don't know what happened to her shoulder," Cartwright said in the interview.

In the video, Cartwright told Windham that she couldn't think right then. Windham told her that she needed to remember, so she could give an explanation to a jury.

"You are going to find yourself in a world of stories that youcan't get out of and it will make you a liar," Windam said in the video.

Both investigators pointed out that after they interviewed Cartwright for three hours, she did change her story from stating that she didn't cause the injuries to taking the tone that she did cause them.

In the video, Cartwright continued to try to explain Keilly's injuries. She said she caused the injury by squeezing her shoulder too hard while she was swaddling her and that the arm injury happened when she threw her baby car into the car seat. She could not remember what caused the injury to Keilly's eye.

"I am thinking of anything I might have done, but I can't think ofanything," Cartwright said in the video.

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