ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - A 13-month-old was initially listed in critical condition at the intensive care unit of Providence Children’s Hospital. Authorities say he was flung across the room, striking the edge of a piano bench before hitting the floor.
Tavaetoto "Angelina" Toilolo-Kapeli appears before the court, charged with assault of a 13-month-old child. Photo: KTUU photojournalist Ben Gauthier.
According to Will Cameron, a detective with the Crimes Against Children Unit of the Anchorage Police Department, the child, Chase Edwards, sustained multiple skull fractures following the incident.
Police investigation shows the child was thrown a measured seven feet by Tauetoto “Angelina” Toilolo-Kapeli, who was babysitting the child at the time while his father was at work.
In a tear-filled court appearance Thursday, Casey Petrin, the mother of the child, said she did not believe Toilolo-Kapeli should be allowed out on bail. “My son almost died […] children should never have to go through what my son went through, to even give her a chance to do it again is not okay,” Petrin said.
The child’s father, Kevin Edwards, said the bail should be increased. “The bail needs to be higher. This isn’t just a […] little accident. My son was thrown. Seven feet. That’s not an accident. He could have been set down. Ten thousand dollars cash corporate is a joke.”
The presiding judge did not increase the bail, but did reject the defense’s third party custodian on the grounds that they would not be impartial.
The incident started when Edwards reportedly received a call from Toilolo-Kapeli, his roommate who was babysitting the child at the time. She initially told him on the phone that the baby had fallen from the couch while she was asleep.
Toilolo-Kapeli, who generally watches the baby while Edwards is working, asked him if she should call an ambulance for the “bump on the side of his head.”
She first said that while she was sleeping with her own son, who is also a year old, she awoke to a thud, and found the infant on the floor. When Edwards arrived home, he immediately took the child to the emergency room, where he was observed to have “multiple skull fractures.”
When detectives working the case followed up with Toilolo-Kapeli, she reiterated her claim to them that the boy had fallen from a couch. She let police photograph the scene and take evidence of her communications with Edwards prior to the infant being rushed to the hospital.
Later on in the investigation, Detective Cameron said Toilolo-Kapeli “explained to [him] that she hasn’t been truthful with all her statements about what happened.” From this point, her story changes from saying the baby didn’t fall from the couch, but instead fell from her arms while she was juggling both her own child and Edwards’ son.
Toilolo-Kapeli told investigators that the baby pushed away from her and, when attempting to support her own 1-year-old, she dropped the other child, causing him to hit the piano seat. The officer said in the report that this seems unlikely, stating, “I know from training and experience that the injuries [the baby] sustained typically are not caused by a simple fall like the mechanism that [Toilolo-Kapeli] explained happened.”
Several days later on March 2, police again questioned Toilolo-Kapeli, this time in a recorded interview. During this interview, authorities say, she again changed her story of the events.
She admitted to detectives that she was lying about dropping the baby from her arm height. Instead, she said she threw the crying baby from where she was standing, all the way to the piano seat, in what detectives called a “semi violent Frisbee type motion.”
The distance from the window, where Toilolo-Kapeli had been standing, to the piano seat was later measured by police to be seven feet.
Toilolo-Kapeli told police the child struck the corner of the bench and then hit the floor, at which point “his arms locked up and he started to arch his back.” She said that once the baby hit the bench, she “immediately knew that she had made a mistake and went to [the baby] to apply a cool wet towel and render medical attention.”
She would later go on to tell police that she hadn’t known her own strength and that she had thrown the baby “out of frustration and because he was not her own child.” She said that previously she had lied about the event because she was afraid how people will view her as a mother and was worried that her children would get taken away.
Chase’s parents were overall glad that the bail was not lowered at Thursday’s court hearing, but said that the extent of the damage caused to the child is still not fully known, including whether he will sustain permanent brain damage. Edwards said that Chase was still unable to take a bottle and remained in the hospital.
The charge being brought against Toilolo-Kapeli is second degree assault, which Edwards said will carry the maximum penalty of ten years in prison. He said that hopefully more charges will be filed and that the case will be moved to first degree assault, which would carry a heavier sentence.
The most frustrating part for Chase’s family is that the entire incident could have been avoided, they said.
“I’m deeply angered,” Edwards said. “You know, this is a baby. All she had to do was put him down. All she had to do was call me and say, ‘Hey, I’m freaking out, I need you to come home.’ I would have come home in a heartbeat.”