Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Public safety

Boyfriend faces charge of beating Tampa toddler to death

TAMPA — A man who said his girlfriend's 1-year-old daughter slipped in the bathtub was arrested Monday and accused of beating her to death, Tampa police said.

Deandre M. Gilmore, 31, was babysitting the girl Wednesday when he phoned 911 to report she was unconscious, police said.

Police and emergency crews arrived at 8123 N Marks St. to find the baby, Mayla Pressley, unconscious on a living room couch. She was rushed to St. Joseph's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

At a news conference Monday afternoon, Tampa police said Gilmore regularly babysat the girl while her mother was at work. He told investigators that Mayla was injured by a slip in the tub.

But a medical examiner's report noted upper body trauma as the cause of death, and police said they believe Gilmore had delivered multiple blows to the girl.

A warrant was issued the next day for Gilmore's arrest on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse.

Authorities said they had been in touch with Gilmore over the weekend, but it was Monday before he agreed to meet. A U.S. Marshals fugitive task force picked him up at an eastern Hillsborough County parking lot.

The Florida Department of Children and Families had not interacted with the family, said DCF communications officer Natalie Harrell, but the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Child Protective Investigations Division had. The nature of that involvement was not available Monday night.

State records show that Gilmore had been arrested on a felony auto theft charge when he was 16, but the records do not show the disposition of that case. His only other previous arrest as an adult was in connection with a 2002 burglary. He was convicted of a felony burglary charge and sentenced to six months in jail, but a grand theft charge was dropped.

Two days after Mayla's death, police said, her mother slapped the father of another child during a court custody hearing Friday and was jailed on a battery charge.

Jail records show that Nayashia Williams, 25, was released after posting $500 bail on the misdemeanor charge.

Times staff writer Jimmy Geurts contributed to this report.

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