MANHATTAN — A nanny with an expired visa has been charged with attempted murder for stuffing a baby wipe down a 2-month-old boy's throat inside a Kips Bay apartment complex, prosecutors said.
Marianne Benjamin-Williams, 45, told investigators that the infant's 14-month-old brother had been left alone with the child on May 18 inside the family's Waterside Plaza apartment when the infant started choking, authorities said.
The nanny then started performing the Heimlich maneuver and called the child's mother to get her to dial 911, her attorney said.
"He likes to chew on baby wipes," Benjamin-Williams later told police, according to the criminal complaint.
During surgery on May 19, doctors removed a "balled up baby wipe" from the child's throat they believed was placed in his mouth and intentionally pushed down his throat, causing the child to "suffer respiratory distress," court papers show.
However doctors said a 14-month-old child would not have the strength, finger length or developmental ability to ball up and place a wipe that far down into a baby's throat — leading authorities to suspect Benjamin-Williams, who was the only adult at home at the time.
She was arrested on May 20 and indicted Tuesday on charges of attempted murder, assault, attempted assault, strangulation, reckless endangerment, endangering the welfare of a child, and criminal possession of a forged instrument, according to the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
The Manhattan District Attorney's office found that Benjamin-Williams had been lying about her background to employers and roommates, as well as doctoring her driver's license and an Israeli passport, and is wanted by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for overstaying her visa.
Benjamin-Williams served as a sergeant in the Israeli Defense Forces before she moved to the U.S. 11 years, ago, according to her attorney, Leonard Levenson.
"Nobody, not the District Attorney, my client or anybody, knows how that gauze pad got in the child's throat, other than the person who put it in, assuming somebody put it in there," Levenson told DNAinfo New York. "It's an outrage."
Levenson added that his team is "checking very carefully into the mother's background."
"We have information that the mother was extremely upset, both business-wise and as a result of the child being born," he added. "And the child had a broken arm during the first month of his life. My client didn't start watching the baby until the second month. We're wondering how that arm got broken and whether the mother had some thing to do with it."
The judge set bail at $100,000 cash or bond. Benjamin-Williams is currently being held at Rikers Island. She's due back in court on Aug. 15.