The baby sitter who called 911 said little Julia Rivera looked "like she was on another planet." Injuries included a skull fracture and brain injuries

It didn't take the baby sitter long to realize that something was terribly wrong when Rachel Reeves brought her 15-month-old daughter to the sitter's Minnetonka apartment on March 26.

Reeves placed little Julia Leigh Rivera in a crib without removing her snowsuit and told the baby sitter to leave her alone. If the toddler woke up, Reeves instructed, the sitter was to give her some medication Rivera put in the refrigerator.

About 15 minutes after Reeves dropped Julia off, the baby sitter pulled off the snowsuit and discovered to her horror that Julia was in bad shape. Her eyes were open but "had a blank look," the sitter later told police. She was "extremely pale and just with her eyes very empty ... like she was on another planet."

Four days later, Julia was dead.

After a six-month investigation by Minnetonka police, Reeves, 29, of Burnsville, was charged late last week with second-degree murder in the death of her daughter. The Hennepin County medical examiner listed the cause of death as a homicide by blunt-force trauma. Prosecutors say Reeves caused her daughter's death by assaulting her in a way that caused a skull fracture, a detached retina and a significant brain injury.

According to the criminal complaint, Julia lived at the time with her single mother and a 7-year-old sister in a Richfield apartment.

On March 25, the older sister spent the night with friends, leaving Reeves alone with Julia from 3:15 p.m. until 7 a.m. on March 26, when Reeves brought her to the baby sitter in Minnetonka.

Worried about the baby's "blank look," the sitter, whose age and name the complaint does not reveal, began to prepare her some milk when Julia arched her back and began "twisting," the complaint said. The sitter called on her adult son for help. He called 911 and performed CPR, following instructions from a dispatcher. Emergency responders arrived to find the baby without a pulse and not breathing.

She died March 30 at Minneapolis Children's Hospital.

Reeves told police that Julia had been sick for about two weeks and that she took her to the pediatrician March 24 because she was "pulling at her ears, irritable, fussy and frequently waking at night." The pediatrician described her state at the time as "alert, interactive, no acute distress," and found no injuries before prescribing an antibiotic.

Reeves also told police that the only injury to her daughter was when Julia fell out of bed 2 to 3 feet to the floor two weeks earlier. But doctors said such a fall could not explain Julia's injuries.

Reeves provided several other possible explanations, but none was plausible, according to doctors and the medical examiner. Reeves said she had been the only person with the baby.

Reeves, who was arrested Thursday, will make her next court appearance Sept. 30. She remains jailed in lieu of $250,000 bail.

Reeves' employer, who was not identified in the complaint, told police she was often tired at work and fell asleep at meetings. She reportedly told her supervisor that Julia did not sleep well and often woke her at night.

And Julia's older sister told police that the toddler often cried and woke her mother. The sister reported that she would try to soothe Julia so her mother could sleep.

In an April 2 online obituary for Julia, dozens of people expressed their condolences to Reeves, who left the following message dated July 11 for her daughter:

"I miss u ... I think about u everyday ... I love u mamacita chula! Love always, your mom."

Abby Simons --612-673-4921

Credit: Star Tribune, Minneapolis