WATERTOWN, N.Y. – A Fort Drum soldier wounded in Afghanistan in 2009 admitted Tuesday that he killed a 4-month-old girl he and his wife were trying to adopt by banging her head against a hard surface and throwing her into a crib.
Jeffrey Sliker, a native of Middletown, R.I., could get 15 years to life in prison at sentencing on March 14 — almost a year after his arrest at the couple's home near the military post in northern New York.
Sliker, 23, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Laurne Clark, also known as Mollie Sliker, who was found dead with a head injury after Sliker's wife alerted authorities.
Prosecutor Cindy Intschert said Sliker told the judge "he had had very little sleep, he was getting ready for work, the child was crying and he became frustrated."
"My offer," the prosecutor said, "was plead to the top count or go to trial."
If convicted at trial, Sliker could have been sentenced to up to 25 years to life.
Defense attorney Sheila Crowley said Sliker was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. But she said she hadn't planned to raise any psychological disorders as a defense. The trial had been set to begin Feb. 27.
Sliker and his wife had been looking after the baby since birth under a court-approved adoption plan.
A private first class, Sliker joined the Army in 2008, served two tours in Afghanistan and was awarded a Purple Heart for an unspecified battle injury in 2009.
An Associated Press photograph shows him lying on a stretcher after being injured Aug. 19, 2009. An armored vehicle in which he and six others were riding hit an improvised explosive device in the Tangi Valley of Afghanistan's Wardak Province.
Sliker's brother, Jim Sliker, has said he wondered if his brother's service in Afghanistan, including sustaining a back injury and a concussion in that attack, may have been a factor in the baby's death.