Monday, December 2, 2013

Dad on trial for murder of 3-month-old daughter (Lansing, Michigan)

Yet another babysitting dad who freaks on a crying baby and kills her.

Dad is identified as JOHN HAROLD SANDERS.

Lansing infant's final hours detailed in father's murder trial

Dec. 2, 2013 6:21 PM

Written by Kevin Grasha

MASON — As 3-month-old Ja’Nayjah Sanders was dying at Sparrow Hospital from severe head injuries prosecutors say had been inflicted by her father — without hope of recovery — she was baptized.

In opening statements Monday in the murder trial of the infant’s father, 38-year-old John Harold Sanders, Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Mike Cheltenham told jurors that the injuries were caused by Sanders the morning of Jan. 4 while her mother, Sanders’ girlfriend, was out.

Cheltenham said Sanders was alone with Ja’Nayjah that morning at his Lansing apartment when, according to his own statements, she stopped breathing.

But Sanders didn’t call 911, Cheltenham said. Instead, he called his uncle and asked for a ride to Sparrow Hospital, where the infant died about 13 hours later in her mother’s arms. Her mother, Shamarrie Kittle, arranged the baptism before she died. Doctors had determined Ja’Nayjah could not recover from traumatic brain injuries she had suffered.

Cheltenham said he believed Sanders “had a crying baby…did not know how to deal with a crying baby — and out of anger or frustration, he abused the baby to the point that she (died) from the head injuries he inflicted.” Cheltenham said Kittle, who was 19 when Ja’Nayjah was born, had taken a bus that morning to the county health department to get infant formula.

Kittle was at the health department when Sanders sent her a text message, saying Ja’Nayjah had stopped breathing.

Sanders’ attorney, Joe Ernst, urged jurors not to be influenced by emotion and to make the prosecution prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Sanders was responsible.

“If you are able to do that, without being overcome by those honest, genuine emotions,” Ernst said, “you will not be able to convict.”

The trial, in Ingham County Circuit Court before Judge William Collette, could conclude this week. Sanders, who is charged with murder and first-degree child abuse, faces up to life in prison.

Cheltenham acknowledged that he would not be able to show exactly what caused the traumatic brain injuries that led to Ja’Nayjah’s death.

He said the evidence would show that she was “violently shaken,” struck with a hand or something else with significant force, or “(Sanders) could have taken her and slammed her head against something — a wall, a post, the floor.”

Cheltenham said all three of those things, or any combination, could have happened.

“No other explanation is reasonably possible,” he said.