Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dad charged with assault in death of 18-month-old daughter; baby died during dad's weekend visitation (Lee's Summit, Missouri)

Dad MARK A. GUENTHER has been charged with assault in the death of his 18-month-old daughter. It is anticipated that the charges will be upgraded to 2nd-degree murder. The baby was in her father's "care" during his weekend visitation when she suffered a fatal skull fracture and other injuries. It seems the baby was guilty of crying....

Do babies really need to be shuttled back and forth between mom and dad's house? NO. There is no benefit to this.

Father Charged In Daughter's Death
Police Claim Guenther Confessed To Striking 1-Year-Old
POSTED: 11:14 am CST February 10, 2010
UPDATED: 7:50 pm CST February 10, 2010

A 22-year-old man is charged with assaulting his 18-month-old daughter while she was in his care.

Elizabeth Guenther was pronounced dead Wednesday morning.

Jackson County prosecutors charged Mark A. Guenther with three counts of first-degree assault. Additional charges are possible.

Police said Guenther was at his grandparents' home in Lee's Summit Monday evening when a 911 call came in that the toddler wasn't breathing. The child lives with her mother.

Lee's Summit police claimed that Guenther confessed to striking the child several times.

Guenther first claimed his daughter hurt herself when she fell in the bathtub.

According to court documents, when detectives later told him the hospital said the injuries were not consistent with his story, Guenther said he punched the girl on the back of the head with a closed fist because she was crying in her high chair and her head hit the table. When detectives asked him how she acted after that, Guenther said she was quiet and laid there.
The girl was taken to a hospital, but she later died from her injuries, which included a fractured and a bleeding skull, as well as bruising around her neck.

"Most significant, though, the medical examiner noted was hemorrhaging in her eyes, which is a term that indicates that the blood vessels in her eyes had burst. This is common in strangulation cases, and that's why we charged one of the assault counts as strangulation," Jackson County Prosecutor Jim Kanatzar said.

Kanatzar said the case demonstrates that suspected child abuse cases need to be taken seriously. There were two previous suspected cases involving the girl from spring 2009 in Cass County.

KMBC's Peggy Breit reported that Guenther's arrangement with the child's mother was that he would take care of his daughter on the weekends.

Guenther is being held on $300,000 bond. Kanatzar said he plans to upgrade the charges to second-degree murder in the coming weeks.

Elizabeth Guenther will be an organ donor, Breit reported.