Commonwealth v. Kathleen S. Ganiere; Foster Mother Pleads Guilty to Killing Infant

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Harvey L. Bryant, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the City of Virginia Beach, announced today that Kathleen Susann Ganiere, 30 years old, previously residing in the 5300 block of Glenville Circle in Virginia Beach, Virginia, pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter in accordance with a plea agreement.  The defendant will turn herself into Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office on June 24, 2011 and remain in custody until she is formally sentenced by Judge Patricia L. West on September 14, 2011.


Had the case gone to trial, the Commonwealth’s evidence would have proved that on November 9, 2009, Ganiere and her husband became foster parents to Braxton Taylor, a seven-month-old healthy child.  For the first seven weeks, Braxton did very well with her and her husband.  The defendant’s husband stayed home with Braxton and the defendant for the first two months using terminal leave from the Navy.  He returned to work on January 4th, 2010, working in a civilian capacity.  In addition he had Navy Reserve commitments on some weekends and he was required to travel with his new civilian employment.


The defendant’s husband left for San Diego on January 31st, 2010.  He returned just after midnight on February 5th, 2010.  During this time period, Ganiere was the sole care provider for Braxton.  Prior to him leaving, Braxton was able to sit up and would engage people with his eyes and reach for things. 


When the defendant’s husband returned from San Diego and got a chance to interact with Braxton he began to cry.  He told the Ganiere “this is not the same baby I left behind when I went to San Diego.”  Braxton could no longer sit up.  He was unable to fix his eyes on things and follow things with his eyes.  He just had a blank stare into space.  He would shake for long periods of time.  During a six hour period, he would shake for 2-3 hours. 


On the morning of February 6th, 2010, Ganiere was home alone with Braxton.  He ceased to breathe and was rushed to the hospital.  Upon examination at the hospital, it was determined that he had the following injuries:  cauliflower ear, a bruised groin, bruised testicles and a subdural hematoma.  Braxton weighed less upon admission to the hospital than he weighed during his 6 month well baby check-up in October 2009.  Dr. Gunther, of the medical examiner’s office, would have testified that he had brain swelling as the result of shaking and that this would have caused his brain to fill with blood.  This ultimately led to his death.  He was formally pronounced deceased on February 7th, 2010.


The defendant has no prior criminal history.


Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Scott M. Lang and Associate Paul J. Powers prosecuted the case.  Please call Macie Pridgen if additional information is desired.