No Max Sentence for Kelsy Newell-Skinner in Drunken Fatal Beating of Baby

Update: The deputy district attorneys who prosecuted Kelsy Newell-Skinner for the beating death of her baby daughter, Natalee Skinner-Hurst — an act that allegedly took place during a bout of heavy drinking — wanted the maximum sentence for the crime: 48 years.

They didn't get it.

But the punishment Newell-Skinner received is expected to keep her behind bars for decades over an incident that took a bizarre twist last year, when a caseworker was criminally charged with forging reports about the tragedy.

The development raised the possibility that Natalee might have lived if the situation in her home had been accurately portrayed.

As we reported in a post that's been incorporated into this update, Natalee was hardly Newell-Skinner's first child. Even though she was just 21 at the time she was busted, she'd given birth to five children by two different fathers — and she was already on the State of Colorado's radar at 11 p.m. on July 27, 2014, when, according to her arrest affidavit (also shared here), a police officer was contacted in regard to an infant that had been transported to Children's Hospital.

The document states that Natalee, who'd been brought to another area hospital by her maternal grandmother, Krista Skinner, "was brain dead with severe bruising on her head, a swollen left eye, fractured ribs and suspected bite marks on her left thigh area."

The child lived at an apartment at 10700 Hampden Avenue with her mom, Newell-Skinner, and her father, Jonathan Hurst, as well as a fifteen-month-old brother and three additional half-siblings — a set of three-year-old twins and a four-year-old.

The latter's dad was identified as Chantz Darrow. He told investigators that he received a series of texts from Skinner-Newell beginning at around noon on the 27th.

In one of the messages, she allegedly told him "she must have been very drunk last night, because she just woke up and the baby had been beaten," the affidavit notes. An additional text is said to have included Kelsy's acknowledgment that "she did not even remember last night and she felt horrible."

Darrow took his time getting to the apartment. He estimated that he arrived at 2:30 p.m., and after seeing the beaten child, he phoned Kelsy's mother, Krista. During the call, Newell-Skinner was described as being hysterical, and she soon ran out of the apartment.

Next to be interviewed was Hurst, who said he'd last seen his daughter the previous evening before he'd gone to work — and he'd stayed the night at his mom's house because of a fight he'd had with Newell-Skinner.

On the 27th, he revealed that he had e-mailed back and forth with Newell-Skinner, with her texting him just prior to 4 p.m. that "she was going to jail." Just over ninety minutes later, Krista phoned to tell him about the baby's injuries, and he headed to the hospital.

During her interview, Krista Skinner said she'd gotten a text from her daughter earlier that day saying she was depressed because she didn't have any money.

When she learned about the baby's injuries, Krista encouraged Newell-Skinner to dial 911 and raced to the apartment.

By the time she arrived, however, Newell-Skinner was gone, so she drove the child to Parker Adventist Hospital herself.

From the affidavit: "Ms. Skinner believes that Kelsy left the apartment because she thought the police would be called."

In the days that followed, 7News spoke to Jonathan, who said the family had never been contacted by Denver Human Services personnel despite Newell-Skinner's past history and the fact that she'd tested positive for THC at the time of Natalee's birth in May.

Shortly thereafter, the department issued a statement refuting that claim. A synopsis of the report, filed by caseworker Rotchana Madera, maintained that Newell-Skinner....
• Was bonding appropriately with her baby
• Knew how to care for her premature baby
• Had a safe and appropriate home with sufficient food for all of the children
• Knew appropriate discipline techniques
• Had the support of extended family, including the fathers of her children
In addition, the investigation is said to have found that....
• Ms. Newell-Skinner's alleged use of THC had not endangered the well-being of her children
• Natalee did not test positive for THC
• The children showed no signs of abuse or neglect
Nonetheless, the 7News piece prompted a closer look into Madera's work, and her own arrest affidavit noted that an ombudsman concluded she "was fabricating her reports." His conclusion: Madera hadn't visited the house, hadn't seen the victim, had faked documentation about phone calls and had falsely reported that the baby tested negative for THC when the opposite was true.

Madera, who subsequently resigned from her post, was arrested in January 2015, and the next March, she pleaded guilty to forgery and official misconduct.

Newell-Skinner followed suit this past February. In exchange for entering a guilty plea for second-degree murder, charges of first-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death were dropped.

She faced a possible 48 years, but Denver District Court Judge Kandace Gerdes instead sentenced her to 35. Judge Gerdes also ordered Newell-Skinner to pay $57,978.41 in restitution.

Continue to see Newell-Skinner's booking photo, a 7News report broadcast around the time Madera pleaded guilty, and the Newell-Skinner arrest affidavit.

Kelsey Newell-Skinner Affidavit

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts