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Saturday, Apr 19, 2014

Clearwater man gets 40 years in baby’s death

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CLEARWATER -

Joseph Oliver was babysitting seven children the night 9-month-old Aaliyah Siler died – three of his own, his girlfriend’s three children and his sister’s.

Even though he wasn’t left in charge for that long – maybe an hour or 90 minutes while he girlfriend stepped out for food – it was enough to make him snap, prosecutors say.

Oliver, now 23, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Friday and was sentenced to 40 years in prison for “intentionally” dropping Aaliyah on her face two to three times on a bathroom floor because she wouldn’t stop crying.

He was scheduled to go on trial today in Aaliyah’s Oct. 3, 2011, death. If convicted of the first-degree murder charge he faced, Oliver would have spent the rest of his life in prison.

Prosecutors agreed to the plea deal, proposed by Oliver’s defense attorney, after Aaliyah’s mother and maternal grandparents signed off on it.

“The family wanted some finality,” Assistant State Attorney David Tobiassen said today. “The prime of his life is gone, and you can’t bring the girl back.”

Oliver gave authorities and Aaliyah’s mother, Krista Karcher, roughly a half-dozen versions of what happened before he admitted to intentionally and repeatedly dropping the girl, according to authorities. Six hours elapsed before anyone called 911, according to a police report.

In his first rendition, Oliver claimed his own seven-month-old daughter had put Aaliyah on a bed before Aaliyah fell onto a tile floor, leaving the baby with two red marks on her face, the police report says. Oliver said he picked up Aaliyah and comforted her.

After being told that scenario didn’t jibe with Aaliyah’s substantial head injuries, Oliver then said Aaliyah hit the floor while he was throwing her up in the air from a bed, Tobiassen said.

Later, Oliver said he became angry and frustrated because Aaliyah wouldn’t stop crying after hitting the floor, according to an arrest affidavit. That’s when he took her to the bathroom and dropped her on her head two to three times, Tobiassen said.

When Karcher returned to Oliver’s apartment, at 2 N. Fernwood Ave. in Clearwater, where she and her children were spending the night, he told her Aaliyah had fallen off the bed while she was playing with his infant daughter, the police report states. That was at 10:30 p.m.

Karcher later told police that, while Aaliyah appeared to be sleeping on an air mattress, she poked her, and her eyes “kinda rolled back,” according to the police report. The girl’s mother didn’t think anything of it, though, and went to sleep on the same air mattress about 12:30 a.m., the report states.

At 4:30 a.m., Karcher woke up and told Oliver, who was sleeping on the same air mattress, to see if the baby was breathing. She wasn’t, and Karcher dialed 911.


The baby died two days later from multiple skull fractures and massive hemorrhaging.

sthompson@tampatrib.com

(727) 215-6504

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