WOMAN FACES MURDER CHARGE IN ADOPTED DAUGHTER'S DEATH

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Date: 1991-07-03

Darrell Glover

A Bothell-area woman yesterday was charged with second-degree murder of her adopted 28-month-old daughter, who died of head injuries after a severe beating.

Noreen Marie Erlandson, 39 ((age)), a nurse practitioner, was accused by the Snohomish County prosecutor of severely beating the child, biting her neck and burning her.

Kayla Erlandson died April 26 at Harborview Medical Center following surgery to relieve pressure on her brain. She was flown to the hospital after paramedics found her unconscious when Noreen Marie Erlandson called them on the night of April 24.

Erlandson is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

An autopsy revealed that about 65 percent of Kayla's body was covered with external injuries, including a bite mark on the left side of her neck and numerous contusions and abrasions about her head, face, shoulder, chest, abdomen, arms, hands, legs and feet, according to papers Deputy Prosecutor David Hiltner filed in Snohomish County Superior Court.

The autopsy by the King County medical examiner's office also revealed that Kayla had two burns on her arm, one measuring 2-by-21/2 inches and the other about one-fourth-inch in diameter. She also had a lacerated liver.

The medical examiner ruled the death a homicide.

A doctor at Harborview said the impact of the death-causing injury to Kayla's head was the equivalent of a several-story fall from a building and could have been inflicted easily by an adult's hand, Hiltner said.

A model of the adoptive mother's teeth showed they matched the bite marks on Kayla's neck, Hiltner said in the court papers.

Authorities had twice been called to the Erlandson home concerning Kayla.

A Child Protective Service officer and a deputy sheriff went to the home March 24 because someone had observed bruises on the child and notified the CPS, the Snohomish County sheriff's office said.

But there didn't appear to be any medical emergency and the mother was told to seek medical attention, authorities said. At the time, the mother said the child had poor motor skills and had hurt herself in a fall.

An investigation is being conducted by the Child Protective Service.

The defendant's husband, Douglas Erlandson, said he arrived home late the evening of April 24 and found Kayla unconscious in his wife's arms, according to court papers. He said his wife examined the child and called Dr. Sarah Weinberg, Kayla's doctor, who advised them to call 911.

At Harborview, Noreen Marie Erlandson said Kayla seemed normal when she picked her up from the baby sitter's, although she was a little sleepy. Erlandson said Kayla vomited after eating dinner, and when she was undressed later for her bath, she slipped on some vomit and hit her head on the toilet with a "bonk."

When asked if she noticed anything unusual on Kayla's skin, Erlandson replied "just the normal bruises," then said the bath water must have been hot because Kayla's arm got red and burned when she was put in the tub.

Erlandson said after Kayla vomited again, she was put to bed at 9 p.m. and was found unresponsive an hour later.

The mother also said Kayla had been falling a lot and that she had fallen and struck a glass water bottle, breaking it, at a baby sitter's the week before, according to Hiltner's court papers.

Medical records show that Kayla had been taken to the Marysville Clinic more than two weeks previously for the bottle incident and had suffered only minor injuries, including a shallow laceration to her forehead.

The medical examiner said seven of Kayla's external injuries appeared to have been more than 72 hours old and the remaining 58 less than 72 hours old. The head injury that caused her death was less than six hours old.

The Erlandsons' adopted 4-year-old son has been placed in a foster home.

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