(WMC-TV) - Ronnie Wilkerson faced a judge Wednesday morning after he was accused of shaking a baby to death.
Wilkerson went to court to show the judge that he hired his own lawyer. Attorney Joseph McCluskey said he's still researching the case and a plea has not been entered yet.
Wilkerson is accused of shaking his infant niece Anaya to death, but his family maintains that the 23-year-old would never intentionally harm his niece.
However, according to investigators, Anaya stopped breathing earlier this month while Wilkerson was babysitting his sister's children.
"Ronnie called me, he said 'Grandma, Naya's not responding to me. I said 'What's wrong. He said 'I don't know she just won't respond to me,'" said Patsy Campbell, Wilkerson's grandmother.
Paramedics rushed Anaya to Le Bonheur where she died two days later from brain trauma.
"Losing a kid, it's just a hard feeling," said Anya's father Nigel Raines.
Raines said he is devastated by the death of his daughter.
"Since she died I can't sleep, I can't eat," he said.
Wilkerson told investigators that he shook his niece three times in an attempt to wake her up to change her morning diaper, according to a police report.
Family members say Anya's death wasn't the result of murder, but rather a horrible accident.
Now prayers are going out for both Anaya and the uncle arrested in connection with her death.
"I know he kept her on several occasions and nothing happened," said Raines. "He took care of the other kids and everything. My condolences go out. I'm praying for him as well, but I just want to know."
Investigators say Wilkerson was babysitting his sister's children because she was in jail in connection with an earlier case of child abuse.
Ronnie Wilkerson is due back in court on January 9.