Jury acquits Milwaukee father facing child neglect charges after baby died from hot bath

Walter Henderson

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee man charged after his 6-month-old daughter suffered severe burns from a hot bath and later died was acquitted by a jury Wednesday, Oct. 30.

One count of neglecting a child (consequence is death) was filed against Walter Henderson, 28, in November 2017. He was found not guilty.

According to the criminal complaint, on Nov. 2, 2017, Henderson decided to give his daughter a bath -- so he started to run some water in the bathtub at his home near 20th Street and Center Street. Henderson said he tested the water, determined it was not hot enough and turned it up hotter. Henderson put his daughter in the baby bath that was under the faucet and left the bathroom to answer his cellphone. When he returned to the bathroom, he saw the baby "patting" the bathwater and crying, so he turned off the water. Henderson said he left the bathroom because he realized he "had the wrong bag." He was away from the bathroom for approximately a minute-and-a-half. He picked the baby up from the water and saw her skin was "raw" on her feet and legs.

The complaint said Henderson's mother came to the house and both Henderson and his mother immediately drove to a nearby hospital. When they arrived, he began shaking and was unable to exit the car. His mother ended up taking the baby into the emergency room. The baby was later transferred to another hospital.

Milwaukee police responded to the hospital to investigate a child abuse report and arrested Henderson who was in the waiting room.

Investigators went back to Henderson's home and found the baby tub in the bathtub with approximately two inches of standing water with what appeared to be skin floating in it.

A couple days later, the baby was found brain-dead. Just one day after that, she was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The autopsy showed that the baby's skin had severe burns covering 30% to 35% of her body, from her midsection to her toes.

Again, Henderson was acquitted, with the court granting the defense motion for judgment on the verdict and ordering entry of judgment of acquittal.