Alaska News

Dad charged in girl's slapping death

A 15-month-old girl who died of traumatic brain injury more than a year ago died at the hands of her father, who slapped her head into a highchair repeatedly because she wouldn't stop throwing food on the floor, according to court documents.

Wasilla resident Clayton Phillip Allison, 26, was charged this week with manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the death of Jocelynn Renee Allison, who died Sept. 24, 2008, at Providence Alaska Medical Center.

According to Alaska State Troopers, Allison claimed Jocelynn sustained the fatal injuries in a fall down the stairs. Troopers, however, say the injuries could not have been caused by falling down eight carpeted stairs, which were guarded with a baby gate, in the split-level home in the 4300 block of South Philie Drive in Wasilla.

Though Allison initially denied wrongdoing, he later told investigators he had been slapping the girl because she refused to eat, according to an affidavit filed in court by troopers investigator Sherry Ferno.

"Clayton stated he was slapping his daughter over a period of time, and began striking (Jocelynn) harder with time," Ferno wrote. "Clayton stated he was not angry with (Jocelynn), he just could not get her to eat otherwise."

According to the affidavit, earlier in her life, Jocelynn had been considered "failure to thrive" because of her low weight and muscle development. The girl could not stand on her own, her mother told troopers.

The day she died, Jocelynn and her father had been doing physical therapy in the living room while her mother and Allison's wife, Christiane Allison, was at work. Clayton Allison initially told troopers he clogged up the toilet and was working to clear it when he heard Jocelynn screaming and crying at the bottom of the stairs.

The injured child was flown by helicopter to Anchorage, where doctors found blood around her brain, a bruised lung and two dislocated vertebrae. The girl died that night.

An autopsy report in December declared the death a homicide, saying the injuries could not have been caused by the described fall.

In January, Clayton Allison told investigators Christiane would come home from work and weigh Jocelynn, asking if the girl had been eating well. Clayton Allison told investigators he tried to feed the girl oatmeal and peas to put weight on her but Jocelynn would throw it on the floor. He told investigators he felt like a failure as a father.

To stop her from throwing the food, Allison began slapping her, knocking Jocelynn's head against the back of a plastic highchair, according to troopers.

"Clayton said that at that time her head would snap forward striking the tray table," Ferno wrote. "The other blows would be a forehand slap followed by a backhanded slap causing her head to strike the side of the chair."

Charges were more than a year coming because infant death cases can be difficult to prove and require time to gather autopsy results, medical records and expert opinions, troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.

"You have to make sure all your ducks are in a row before you move forward," she said.

Allison, who has no criminal history in Alaska, according to court records, remains jailed at the Mat-su Pretrial facility. No one answered phone calls to the Allisons' home Thursday. The voice mail was not accepting messages because it was full.

Find James Halpin online at or call him at 257-4589.