A Baltimore man was arrested and charged with beating to death a 1-year-old he was tasked with babysitting last year.
Baltimore police wrote in a news release that Paul Hardy, 31, was charged with murder and child abuse in the October 2020 death of Zariea Dixon. The baby died after being taken to the hospital suffering from brain hemorrhaging, police said.
On Oct. 8 at around 8 p.m., officers were flagged down on the 600 block of Mosher St. by a woman whose child had stopped breathing, according to charging documents.
Upon arriving at the woman’s house, police wrote that officers encountered Hardy carrying Dixon, who was not breathing at the time.
Dixon was taken to a local hospital to be treated and Child Protective Services summoned the officers back there later that day, suspecting Dixon’s injuries were the result of child abuse, police said. Doctors determined that Dixon was suffering from internal brain hemorrhaging, according to Detective Nicole Monroe.
Three days later, Dixon was taken off of life support, police said.
According to charging documents, the child’s mother identified Hardy as Dixon’s “god brother” and said she had left Dixon in his care while she went shopping that day.
Officers interviewed Hardy on Oct. 21, charging documents state, and the 31-year-old told investigators that he placed Dixon down on her mother’s bed when he began to experience “severe pain from his medical condition” and proceeded to take a shower to help alleviate the pain.
“He said at some point he awakened from the pain while in the shower . . .” charging documents state. “He said he heard [Zariea] throwing up and coughing at which time, he stated he attempted to help her.”
Hardy told officers that he put her in the shower before running to a nearby house to call 911, who advised him to perform CPR on the infant.
Charging documents state that when asked if he’d injured the child, Hardy said he may have fallen down the stairs twice while holding Dixon and could have banged her head when trying to perform CPR.
In December, the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Dixon’s death a homicide, Monroe said. Charging documents state that the office concluded the hemorrhaging Dixon suffered was due to blunt force trauma and that the child had died due to head and neck injuries.
Officers obtained an arrest warrant for Hardy, but he wouldn’t be arrested until June 17 when he was identified in Georgia, Monroe said. He was extradited back to Baltimore on July 2, police said, and has since been charged with second-degree murder and several child abuse offenses.
Hardy faces a potential life sentence.
No attorney is listed as representing Hardy in online court records.