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Faced with dying infant, Niagara Falls babysitter consulted Google, not 911

Babysitter Samantha J. Klein knew 3-month-old Alaya Foster was in trouble on Feb. 22.

Prosecutor Holly E. Sloma said Tuesday that Klein's cellphone, searched by Niagara Falls police, shows that Klein searched for "symptoms of seizures" and "symptoms of child being lifeless."

At some point between 9 p.m. Feb. 21, when Alaya's mother dropped the infant off at Klein's North Avenue home, and 9 a.m. Feb. 22, when the Google searches were made, the baby girl suffered a fractured skull. The cause remains a mystery.

"We are not going to surmise exactly how that happened," Niagara County District Attorney Caroline A. Wojtaszsek said.

"Alaya did not die right away," Sloma said.

But no 911 call was made from Klein's home until 1:04 a.m. Feb. 23. The baby was pronounced dead in Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center.

Samantha J. Klein. (Photo courtesy of the Niagara County Sheriff's Office)

Klein, 31, pleaded guilty Oct. 15 to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in prison, the longest sentence County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III could impose.

"Everyone wants to know, why did this occur and why did she not seek help?" Sloma asked in court. "The truth is, this defendant violently caused the injuries that killed Alaya Foster and then did nothing, nothing for a whole day."

"She thought she could manage the issue," defense attorney Brian J. Hutchison said. "She thought she could manage the injuries, and ultimately that was a stupid decision."

"I know I should have got help for her, and I'm sorry," a sobbing Klein told the judge.

"You are an evil monster," Crystal Dusen, Alaya's grandmother, told Klein in court. "You killed an innocent, helpless child."

"I'm happy she got the 25 years," Dusen told reporters after the sentencing. "It's never going to bring (Alaya) back, but justice was served."

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When Alaya's mother, Dominique Hilson, dropped Alaya off on the night of Feb. 21, "She was happy, she was healthy, she was a beautiful 3-month-old baby," Sloma said.

Murphy said Klein's inaction "shows a cold and callous heart. You didn't care then, and I'm not sure you care today what happened to Alaya."

Wojtaszek said Klein had looked after Alaya before, and this time there were some other children there. Sloma said there is a video of those children holding Alaya sometime on Feb. 22.

In the cellphone video, "Alaya is limp, lifeless. Her arm is somewhat stiff," Sloma said.

The Erie County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the infant died of blunt force trauma.

Klein also pleaded guilty to two other felonies: fifth-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance and attempted first-degree robbery.

Klein was charged with selling $140 worth of fentanyl to a police informant in Niagara Falls on June 14 and July 6, 2018, and with assaulting a woman and trying to steal her purse on a Niagara Falls street Dec. 24.

Murphy gave her seven years for the robbery attempt and 2½ years for the drug deals. He ordered the sentences to be served simultaneously with the manslaughter sentence. He also tacked on five years of postrelease supervision.

"She clearly was in the grips of drug addiction, and that began well before June," Hutchison said.

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