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News / Northwest

Court documents: Nanny charged with killing Airway Heights infant gave multiple stories to police

By Garrett Cabeza, The Spokesman-Review
Published: April 1, 2024, 7:37am

SPOKANE — A 59-year-old nanny charged with killing an Airway Heights infant provided several explanations as to what led to the fatal injuries, which a doctor compared to someone being thrown from a moving vehicle.

Sharon Arger was arrested Thursday and charged with suspicion of second-degree murder.

Airway Heights police responded Nov. 2 to 330 S. Dovetail Court for a reported unconscious infant, according to court documents. Call notes indicated the baby’s 2 1/2 -year-old sibling struck him in the head.

Arger answered the door while holding the unconscious infant in her arms, police wrote in documents. Police started CPR before he was taken to Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

Police said Arger said something about a bite mark or bruise on the infant’s arm, and she was going to take a photo of it while CPR was performed, court records show. Police learned later the infant had what appeared to be a bite mark on his wrist. Court documents did not indicate who may have inflicted the bite mark.

The child’s parents arrived at the hospital and told police they hired Arger to be their nanny for two days a week. They said they did not notice injuries to their baby before they left for work that morning.

A doctor at the hospital reported the infant had several bruises and abrasions on his head, an abrasion on his ear, brain bleeding and swelling, a skull fracture, neck injuries and six fractured ribs, documents say. The doctor estimated the broken ribs happened seven to 10 days prior to the 911 call.

The doctor told police the injuries were “strongly suggestive of an abusive event,” and that it was “absolutely not possible” the 2 1/2 -year-old sibling caused them.

The infant died Nov. 8 at the hospital. The Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Office said he died of blunt force injuries of the head and ruled the death a homicide, according to court records.

Arger provided multiple accounts to how the infant became injured, according to court documents.

They included that the infant’s young sibling hit him with a toy truck, kicked and flipped him, threw a “trike” at him, and hit him. She also said the infant may have choked on his bottle of milk. She also said she didn’t know what caused the injuries and she didn’t know if the child’s parents were responsible, documents say.

The Sacred Heart doctor compared the infant’s injuries to those of someone being thrown from a moving vehicle, while the medical examiner compared them to someone being thrown off a horse. The doctor said the baby would most likely start showing symptoms, such as loss of consciousness, at the time the injuries happened, not hours or days after the event that caused the symptoms, according to documents.

Police said in documents an inconsolably crying baby is the leading reason people inflict abusive head trauma on infants or small children. Arger mentioned several times the baby was “fussy” and “cries all the time.”

Arger was awarded more than half a million dollars in 1995 by a federal jury after they found she was illegally fired by an insurance company after developing a neurological disease.

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Her reputation was at the center of that case, according to stories in The Spokesman-Review at the time.

The insurance company said she was incompetent, arrogant and angry as an employee, which led to her firing, while others said she was a soft-spoken, benevolent soul who was fired because of a disease that left a bubble in her spinal cord.

In 2018, Arger pleaded guilty to felony identity theft and was sentenced to 40 hours of community service.

Arger made her first appearance for the murder charge Friday in Spokane County Superior Court and is scheduled for an arraignment April 9. She remained in the Spokane County Jail on a $1 million bond Saturday.