Friday, July 16, 2010

Dad found guilty in death of 4-month-old daughter (Sioux City, Iowa)

The judge found dad PAUL HILL guilty of child endangerment causing death. The baby was under Daddy's "care" when she suffered an ultimately fatal head injury and blunt force trauma to the abdomen.

Judge finds Hill guilty in baby daughter's death
By Dolly A. Butz -
Posted: Thursday, July 15, 2010 10:30 pm

SIOUX CITY -- Since her 4-month-old daughter Tryniti Hill's death more than a year ago, Kayla Hegge said she has been riding an emotional roller coaster.

That ride ended Thursday when a Woodbury County District Court Judge found Tryniti's father, Paul Hill, guilty of child endangerment causing death, a class B felony. Hill will be sentenced Aug. 10. He faces up to 50 years in prison.

"I wasn't surprised at all," Hegge said of the verdict while standing outside the courthouse with family and friends. "I'm happy this day has finally come and it's over. It's been long overdue."

Tryniti became unresponsive the morning of Feb. 17, 2009, while in her father's care and died later that day at an Omaha hospital. A head injury and blunt-force trauma were listed on the autopsy report as the cause of her death.

Hill, 21, told police he had hit Tryniti because he was upset with her while trying to put her into her car seat.

In front of a packed courtroom, Judge James Scott said he found prior acts of child endangerment committed against the infant, including scratches, rib fractures and bruising, "troubling." But because medical experts could not prove who had caused the injuries or say when and where they had occurred, Scott found Hill not guilty of multiple acts of child endangerment.

Scott said the prosecution's evidence, which included medical experts' testimony, Hill's statements to police and the child's health history, was "persuasive." Hill punched Tryniti in the abdomen and then shook her to possibly revive her, according to Scott.

"All of this evidence is consistent with the state's witness that she died due to blunt-force trauma," he said.

Hill, dressed in a rose-colored long-sleeved shirt, sat next to his attorney, Assistant Public Defender Mike Williams, and looked down as Scott declared him guilty of child endangerment causing death. Gasps were heard in the courtroom and a woman seated in the third row behind Hill began to sob.

After the verdict was read, Hill was handcuffed and ushered out of the courtroom.

Hegge, who said she now feels a sense of closure, said she will attend Hill's sentencing and be at every parole hearing that he has in the future.

She remembers her "happy" and "precious" baby by looking at the mementos that fill her home.

"It's crazy how much those four months she was there affected my life," she said. "She's changed me."