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Originally published Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 9:33 PM

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Mental evaluation ordered for mother charged in boy's death

A Tacoma woman must undergo a mental-health evaluation before she enters a plea in the death of her 2-year-old son.

The News Tribune

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TACOMA — Aleesha Walker told her father she'd been hearing voices.

Clarence Walker said he'd even heard a change in her voice. Normally an emotional, expressive woman, she'd sounded more flat lately, as if in a trance.

He asked if the voices were telling her to hurt herself or anyone else. The 28-year-old woman said no and assured her dad she and her son, Noah Sanford, were OK. Their last exchange was Thursday night.

By Friday morning, less than three weeks after his mother had thrown a party for his second birthday, Noah was dead.

Pierce County prosecutors say that Walker called 911 from her Tacoma apartment and told a dispatcher she'd killed Noah. She said the voices, in part, told her to do it, according to court papers.

"God knows what I did," Walker reportedly told the Tacoma police officers who came to her apartment and found Noah's lifeless body. "I'm bad. ... "

Monday, prosecutors charged Walker with first-degree murder. In a court hearing, Pierce County Superior Court Commissioner Meagan Foley ordered her to undergo a mental-health evaluation before she enters a plea.

Walker, who didn't speak, was ordered held in jail without bail.

Clarence Walker said he was devastated.

"There was no warning," the Pasco resident said. He said he missed his grandson, who was a "ball of fire."

Aleesha Walker, who grew up in Tacoma, was an Everest College graduate and a certified medical assistant. She was a protective mother, her dad said.

But something changed recently. Aleesha Walker told her dad about hearing voices, that her house was bugged. She made references to the FBI.

"But she said she was OK," Clarence Walker said.

Noah was seen Wednesday at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital for an unknown medical issue, court documents state. Social workers noted the "mother's mental state was the sole concern," the documents say.

Aleesha Walker called 911 just after 7 a.m. Friday and said she'd hit Noah's head on a dresser and made references to smothering him, court documents state.

Tacoma police found Noah's body in Walker's apartment. He had dried blood on his face.

Walker had dried blood on her hands and knees.

The boy was pronounced dead at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.

An autopsy revealed that Noah's head and face injuries hadn't been fatal. The medical examiner believes "the likely cause of death was smothering," the Prosecutor's Office reported.

Child Protective Services (CPS) received four referrals regarding Aleesha Walker and Noah in 2010 and 2011. None indicated that Noah had been injured, agency spokeswoman Sherry Hill said Monday.

"They were referrals about neglect of Noah, of dirty conditions in the house, possible drug use, hygiene of the boy, and domestic violence between the parents," Hill said. "Every time we checked it out, he seemed clean, the house was cleaned up. He seemed OK."

Hill said there was one referral in 2010 and three in 2011. The 2010 referral was resolved after an early-family-support worker visited Aleesha Walker and offered her services.

The three 2011 referrals were closed as unfounded.

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