Woman charged with murder after infant dies of dehydration

A Columbus woman faces a murder charge stemming from her infant daughter’s dying of dehydration after going 17 hours without fluids in a room that in the summer of 2011 had no air-conditioning.

Jessica Shah, who marked her 35th birthday Saturday in the Muscogee County Jail, was indicted Tuesday on a charge of felony murder in the Aug. 1, 2011, death of 8-month-old Alejandra Lynn Molina. The charge is based on the allegation Alejandra’s death resulted from Shah’s committing felony first-degree cruelty to children by depriving the child of sustenance.

Investigators probing the child’s death said she was left unattended in a hot room as temperatures outside soared into the upper 90s. They said the family told them Shah left Alejandra and three other siblings in the care of a 14-year-old sister who bottle-fed the infant at 8 p.m. that July 31, and no one checked on the child until the mother returned about 1 p.m. the next day.

Autopsy results showed Alejandra died of dehydration and probable hyperthermia, authorities said. Besides murder, Shah is charged with two counts of first-degree child cruelty, one for depriving the child of fluids and another for leaving her “in a hot room for several hours,” according to the indictment.

At the time of Alejandra’s death, the family was living at 3818 Third Ave., investigators said.

Shah first was arrested on child cruelty charges Aug. 15, 2011, and indicted for that on April 24 of this year. Having been released from jail, she was arrested again July 25, prosecutors said. Her total bond had been set at $35,000.