40-year murder plea
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Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office

Press Release

 

 

On October 7, 2019, Rosemary Paige Harrah plead guilty to the Murder of her 2-month old son in the 400th District Court before Presiding Judge Maggie Perez-Jaramillo.  She was sentenced to 40 years in prison in an agreement with prosecutors.  The 23-year old Needville woman was charged in 2017 after an investigation into a suspicious internet posting revealed the crime.

 

Needville Fire and EMS responded to the defendant’s residence on December 11, 2016 in Needville, Texas, where the defendant’s 2-month old baby was found deceased.  Harrah indicated to first responders that she had fed her baby the night before, gone to bed, and found the baby unresponsive and not breathing in the morning.  Approximately 10 days later, the Needville Police Department received an anonymous email reporting that a person using the online name of “Shimmering” from Needville had posted on a web site for new mothers that she was thinking of hurting her baby.  In the email, the tipster provided the name of the child and evidence that the posting community had advised “Shimmering” to seek counseling or consider giving her child up for adoption.

 

Needville Police Lieutenant Craig Rader recognized the importance of the information in the anonymous email once he verified that the child named in the tip had passed away.  He immediately notified the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office since the child had died outside of Needville’s city limits. With the information from the tip, Detective Thomas Cantu of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office interviewed the defendant and confirmed that she had indeed posted on the new mother’s web site using the name “Shimmering”.  Harrah confessed to Detective Cantu that she had covered her baby’s face with a blanket and applied pressure until he stopped moving and crying and then put him back down in his bed.  The defendant told Detective Cantu that she did not check on her baby until the following morning and that she knew he was probably unconscious or dead.  The Galveston County Medical Examiner ruled that suffocation caused the baby’s death.  Assistant District Attorneys Lisa Gregg and Jenna Rudoff consulted with detectives and assisted with reviewing search warrants to ensure the perpetrator was brought to justice in this unusual and tragic case.  Harrah was indicted by a grand jury for the offense of Capital Murder of her 2-month old son in March of 2017. 

 

“Justice requires that the facts of every case must be individually evaluated when determining an appropriate resolution. Cases of serious injury or death of children, such as this case, which involved the intentional act of suffocating an innocent and helpless infant, are truly abhorrent and deserving of harsh punishment,” said District Attorney Brian M. Middleton.  “In this case, the defense presented us with credible mitigating evidence that warranted the reduction of the charge to Murder and the resulting agreement of 40 years in prison.”

 

            Assistant District Attorney Melissa Munoz pointed out that “But for the concern of the anonymous tipster and diligent police work by Lt. Rader and Detective Cantu, this case probably would not have been recognized as a homicide.  The follow up on the anonymous tip and subsequent search warrants for the defendant’s communications to the internet web site was critical to this case and helped establish the defendant’s true intent.” 

 

            Murder is a first-degree felony punishable from 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a fine up to $10,000.  Child Abuse Division Deputy Chief Terese Buess noted that the defendant will have to serve one-half of her sentence before she is eligible for parole.  After the plea, prosecutors read the victim impact statements on behalf of the paternal grandparents of the child victim.  

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