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Pennsylvania Mom Allegedly Beat and Strangled Toddler, Said She Wanted Her Baby to ‘Feel What I Have Felt’

Mary Hawkins (Dauphin County Jail)

Mary Hawkins (Dauphin County Jail)

A 22-year-old mother in Pennsylvania was arrested last week after she allegedly beat and strangled her 3-year-old daughter because she wanted the child to “know what it is like to be choked.” Mary Hawkins, of Harrisburg, was taken into custody on Thursday and charged with several felonies, including three counts of aggravated assault, one count of criminal attempted homicide, one count of strangulation, and one count of endangering the welfare of a child, court records reviewed by Law&Crime show.

Following the alleged incident, Hawkins appeared before Dauphin County Magisterial District Judge Barbara W. Pianka for her arraignment. Judge Pianka ordered Hawkins detained without bond until her preliminary hearing next month due to the “nature of the charges” she is facing.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by PennLive, officers with the Harrisburg Police Department on Thursday at approximately 11:48 a.m. responded to a 911 call about a possible assault on a child at a home located in the 500 block of South 17th Street.  The call was reportedly placed by the victim’s paternal grandmother.

The grandmother reportedly told a 911 dispatcher that when she walked into the house, she heard Hawkins screaming, “Why can’t you just be happy?” The grandmother then walked to the toddler’s room in the back of the home where she allegedly saw Hawkins “sitting over the 3-year-old and choking her,” per PennLive. The grandmother reportedly told investigators that Hawkins was placing enough pressure on the baby’s throat to prevent the child from making any sound whatsoever.

“What the fuck are you doing?” the grandmother yelled when she walked into the baby’s bedroom, according to the affidavit.

Upon seeing her boyfriend’s mother, Hawkins immediately stopped strangling her daughter, according to PennLive. Hawkins then reportedly asked her boyfriend’s mother to kill her.

Police reportedly said that Hawkins punched her young daughter multiple times during the alleged attack. The 3-year-old victim reportedly sustained significant bruising to her face as well as a ruptured blood vessel in her left eye.

The victim was transported to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center Thursday afternoon for treatment where doctors reportedly told police she is expected to make a full recovery.

In a subsequent interview with police, Hawkins allegedly admitted to choking her daughter approximately five times during the day. When asked why she strangled the toddler, Hawkins reportedly gave a disturbing response.

“I wanted her to feel what I have felt,” she said, according to the affidavit. “I know what it is liked to be choked.”

According to PennLive, the victim’s father broke up with Hawkins following the alleged assault. Prosecutors reportedly argued that Hawkins should be held without bond because her relationship with the child’s father was her only tie to the state of Pennsylvania. Hawkins’ family reportedly lives in Georgia.

Hawkins is currently being held in the Dauphin County Jail. She is currently scheduled to appear before Magisterial District Judge Paul T. Zozos on March 15 for a preliminary hearing.

The Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office and the Harrisburg Police Department did not immediately respond to messages from Law&Crime seeking additional details on the incident.

[image via Dauphin County Jail]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.