Decorated Soldier Charged With Murdering Infant
A decorated 23 year old Fort Drum soldier is accused of killing a four-month old baby he was in the process of adopting.
Jeffrey Sliker of 112 West Lynde Street in Watertown was arraigned in city court Friday morning.
A Purple Heart recipient and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Sliker is charged with second-degree murder.
"The defendant is accused of what's commonly called depraved indifference in the murder of a child and that's not the same as intentional murder," said Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy Intschert.
Police were called to Sliker's home Wednesday afternoon on a report of an unresponsive child.
Four month old Laurne Clark, also known as Mollie Sliker, was already dead when police arrived, officials said.
Initially, there was no sign of any injury.
Autopsy results came in Thursday.
"It was at that time that it was found that the child had suffered blunt force trauma to the head," said Watertown Police Lieutenant Frank Derrigo.
Police said Sliker and his wife, Ashley Dashnaw Sliker (pictured at left from her Facebook page), had had the baby since birth under a court-approved adoption.
According to his brother, Sliker was excited about the adoption and loved the baby dearly.
"He loves kids and I don't see him ever trying to hurt someone, especially his own daughter," said Jim Sliker.
However, Jim Sliker wonders if his brother's service in Afghanistan, including a back injury and a concussion from an improvised explosive device may have had something to do with what happened.
(The Associated Press photo below shows Sliker after he was injured in Afghanistan.)
"He might have had a nightmare and unfortunately he took it out - not that he took it out on her - it happened with her being there," said Jim Sliker.
(Watch raw video of Sliker's interview here.)
However, Lt. Derrigo sounded skeptical about Jim Sliker's explanation.
"We believe there was a motive, but we're not going to discuss that right now," said Derrigo.
Jeffrey Sliker, a native of Rhode Island, served in Afghanistan in 2009.
His unit, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, is currently deploying again to Afghanistan, but Fort Drum officials told 7 News that, for some reason, Sliker was not a part of that deployment.
Friday's arraignment was brief.
Through a public defender, Sliker waived a preliminary hearing and the matter of bail was referred to Jefferson County Court.
As for Sliker's wife, police would not say if she was present when the baby was fatally injured, but they did say she's not likely to face charges.
Watertown police said Sliker and his wife were approved as adoptive parents by Jefferson County Family Court.
The District Attorney's Office and county Child Protective Services assisted city police in the investigation.
(AP Photo/David Goldman: Soldiers of the U.S. Army's Apache Company, 2nd Battalion 87th Infantry Regiment, part of the 3rd Combat Brigade 10th Mountain Division based out of Fort Drum, N.Y., evacuate a wounded soldier, Spc. Jeff Sliker, 21, of Middletown, R.I., to a waiting helicopter after their armored vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the Tangi Valley of Afghanistan's Wardak Province Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009.)
Tuesday, May 21, 2013, Watertown, NY
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