Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Dad found guilty of 1st-degree murder in death of 4-month-old daughter (Ankeny, Iowa)

We have posted on this case several times since 2010. Not one of the articles I have seen has clarified what happened to the mother of this baby. It's as if dad RYAN TROWBRIDGE found this poor baby in a cabbage patch. Notice that we hear from the maternal grandmother, but not the mom. If this is a single dad, then why isn't he identified as such? Why does the media insist on making mothers invisible?

Ankeny dad guilty in daughter's death sentenced to life in prison
12:36 AM, Dec 12, 2012

An Ankeny father found guilty of killing his infant daughter sat silently on Tuesday as he was sentenced to prison for the rest of his life.

Ryan Trowbridge, 22, was convicted of first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death following a complicated bench trial in August centering on detailed and conflicting medical testimony.

Polk County authorities say 4-month-old Rylee Trowbridge was in her father’s care on July 12, 2010, when Ankeny firefighters and police were called to Trowbridge’s residence for a child who was not breathing.

Trowbridge told police he was watching television in another room when he heard a gasp.

The father said he discovered Rylee in respiratory distress on a queen-sized bed where he had placed her for a nap. Trowbridge called for help, and his daughter later died at Iowa Methodist Medical Center.

Defense attorney Mark Pennington argued at the August bench trial that the infant had rolled off a pillow and become lodged, head down, between the headboard and the mattress.

District Judge Scott Rosenberg ultimately agreed with police assertions that head injuries discovered by an autopsy were inconsistent with Trowbridge’s account.

The judge agreed with testimony that Trowbridge wouldn’t have been able to hear his infant daughter’s gasp, and that the gap between the mattress and headboard was too small for Rylee’s head to become wedged in.

Doctors also testified at trial that Rylee had fractured ribs, a fractured clavicle, neck injuries and retinal bleeding consistent with having been grabbed and shaken.

“The conclusions to be reached from all of the evidence in this case is that the defendant, the sole care provider at the time of the sudden and severe and critical distress that Rylee faced on July 12, 2010, was the source of Rylee’s injuries and her death,” Rosenberg ruled. “The defendant, as shown by the facts and circumstances and the medical evidence, acted intentionally, willfully and deliberately ... ”

Rosenberg sentenced Trowbridge to prison shortly after a victim services coordinator read a statement in court from the baby’s maternal grandmother, pleading for an honest account of what happened the day Rylee died.

“It is not our wish that you spend the rest of your life in prison, and never has been,” wrote Meko Martin. “I know that you love your daughter. That was never a question. We just need to know the truth, so that someday we may be able to heal.”

Pennington said Trowbridge plans to appeal on the ground that he was improperly convicted under Iowa’s felony-murder rule for causing the baby’s death while committing child endangerment.

The argument is similar to one used by former Warren County farmer Rodney Heemstra in appealing his conviction in the 2003 murder of Tom Lyon.

The Iowa Supreme Court ordered a new trial in that case in 2006 after ruling that Heemstra, who shot Lyon only once, could have improperly been convicted under a law that makes murder out of any death caused while someone is committing a felony.

In Heemstra’s case, defense lawyers argued that there was no felony crime other than Heemstra pointing a gun at Lyon.

“We now hold that, if the act causing willful injury is the same act that causes the victim’s death, the former is merged into the murder and therefore cannot serve as the predicate felony for felony-murder purposes,” Iowa Supreme Court justices wrote in 2006. “In reaching this conclusion, we agree that we should not attribute to the Legislature an intent to create an ever-expanding felony-murder rule.”