Child dies 10 years after violent shaking; babysitter charged with murder

A man who is serving eight years in prison for drugs and theft could face decades more behind bars if Orange County prosecutors can prove his girlfriend’s daughter died because he violently shook her a decade ago, authorities said Wednesday.

On Jan. 12, 2005, Christopher Byrd was babysitting his girlfriend’s 11-month-old daughter in La Habra when he shook her until she lost consciousness, then he ran to a neighbor’s home to call paramedics, who whisked the girl to a hospital.

Savannah Lee Quake suffered a traumatic brain injury that day and remained on a ventilator in a vegetative state for the next 10 years until she died last January. Authorities contend her death was a direct result of Byrd’s shaking and investigated the death for months before filing charges Tuesday.

Byrd is charged with murder and felony assault on a child causing great bodily injury or death. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted. He is scheduled to be arraigned Dec. 4.


Byrd was convicted in the incident and of drug possession in 2007 and sentenced to prison. After he was released, he was sent to prison again in 2013 for drug and identity theft crimes, officials said.

Though Quake was injured 10 years ago, there’s no statute of limitations on murder cases.

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