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Las Cruces physician failed to report child abuse that resulted in death, police say

By: Jesse Martinez
LAS CRUCES, N.M. - A Las Cruces physician and operator of a local private school is facing charges for failing to report child abuse that resulted in the death of a 7-month-old girl.
As KFOX14 previously reported, officials said Shania Smith was killed by her mother Annette Smith, who smothered her with five to six quilts in an apartment with no air conditioning.
Officials said the mother did so to muffle the child's cries and did so on multiple occasions.
Police said two of Annette Smith's daughters attended a private school, Mercer School, and investigators interviewed the owner, Ann Mercer.
The investigation revealed Mercer was told by one of the daughters that Smith would refuse to feed Shania, left the baby in soiled diapers and would cover her with blankets.
Smith's arrest affidavit stated she resented the infant because she believed Shania's father loved the baby more than her.
The 13-year-old also told Mercer that her mother would frequently hit her and her 12-year-old sister.
Police said Mercer never reported the alleged abuse to police or the Children, Youth and Families Department.
New Mexico State Statute 32A-4-3 requires medical professionals and school officials, among others, to immediately report child abuse and child neglect to law enforcement.
Mercer, 69, was charged with three counts of failure to report child abuse or child neglect.
She was booked into the county jail with bail set at $1,000
Smith was previously charged with one count of intentional child abuse resulting in death, one count of tampering with evidence, one count of negligent child abuse and six counts of child abuse.
Her two daughters and 18-month-old son are in the custody of CYFD.
Last week, Smith was indicted by a grand jury on the charges.

Affidavit: Children say mother was mean to infant; Mother stacked blankets on baby to muffle cries