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Jennifer Mothershead Allegedly Bleaches Daughter's Eyes

05/ 1/12 04:46 AM ET AP

Jennifer Mothershead
Jennifer Mothershead, 29, is accused of putting bleach in her 14-month-old daughter's eyes.

TACOMA, Wash. -- Prosecutors have accused a Washington state woman of repeatedly putting bleach into her daughter's eyes, causing permanent vision loss in the toddler's right eye.

Jennifer Mothershead was arrested Friday and was charged with assault after a lengthy investigation.

Authorities say her daughter was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle in May 2011 after sustaining a serious head injury. The girl, who was 14 months old at the time, also had an eye infection. Doctors called the Pierce County Sheriff's Department because they suspected the head injury was a result of abuse.

Mothershead told a detective her daughter started to have an eye issue in March 2011 after playing in a barn. She said the girl received antibiotics and eye drops, but Mothershead didn't provide an explanation for the head injury and, according to the detective, didn't show any emotion about her daughter's injuries.

The detectives placed the girl in state protective custody.

Mothershead had brought the eye drops to the hospital, and a staff member later opened the drops and noticed a foul odor. Investigators sent the drops to the Food and Drug Administration's Forensic Chemistry Lab for analysis. The lab determined the drops contained bleach.

"The staff at Harborview determined that the damage to the child's eyes was consistent with repeated exposure to bleach, and ruled out any possibility that the eye dropper had been merely cleaned with bleach," prosecutors said in a statement.

The girl's condition improved in the hospital, but doctors noted she'd lost vision in her right eye. The girl now lives with her father.

Mothershead, 29, of Buckley pleaded not guilty to first-degree assault of a child Monday. Mothershead was ordered held in lieu of $150,000 bail.

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Filed by Hilary Hanson  |