4:00 PM EDT, June 2, 2011
It's horrifying video. A mother places her hand over her son's mouth and nose and the infant, unable to breathe, struggles for his life.
It happened at Cook Children's Medical Center in Fort Worth, Texas. That's where Shantaniqua Scott brought in her 4-month-old son, Rhaidyn because she said he was having trouble breathing. But one physician wasn't so sure, and put the baby in a video monitored hospital room. That's when the unthinkable act was caught on tape.
"It kind of takes your breath away when you see it," says Assistant District Attorney Eric Nickols, who prosecuted the case against the 18-year-old mother.
"You see him fighting and kicking with every amount of strength that a 4-month-old has, until he just gives up," says Nikols.
The video also shows Scott taking a blanket and putting it over her son's face so he couldn't breathe. For a full 21 seconds she held it there. An alarm went off. Startled, she removed the blanket. A nurse came in and checked on the baby, as Scott pretended to play with him. Then, two minutes later, she put her hand over the baby's mouth and nose for an astonishing one minute and 14 seconds!
"She very nonchalantly, casually, rests her head in her hand on the edge of the crib, while she's suffocating her son until he stops breathing. He was literally knocking on death's door," says Detective Dennis Hutchins of the Fort Worth police.
As Rhaidyn's vital signs diminished, a second alarm sounded and another nurse rushed in, followed by an entire team of medical personnel, who worked heroically to revive the boy. Miraculously, Rhaidyn survived.
INSIDE EDITION went to interview Scott, now an inmate at the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth. Scott was recently found guilty of trying to smother her son.
Surrounded by correctional officers, she was shackled at her feet and hands, and had to be assisted onto a bench for our interview.
She tried to explain herself. "I just wanted him to be quiet and stop crying," she said.
A psychological evaluation revealed that she suffered from postpartum depression and a personality disorder. Scott says she was stressed out and frustrated.
"It was just extremely selfish; everything was how it affected her. She felt stressed because the baby's father didn't want to be in the baby's life. She felt stressed that she was a teen mother," Nikols says.
Whatever the explanation, these images leave everyone wondering how a mother could do this to her helpless child.
Rhaidyn is in foster care pending an investigation. Doctors say it will be a long time until they can tell if he suffered long-term brain damage from being smothered.