A Minnesota man, Chris McMorris, was charged with with murdering his girlfriend's daughter in March, after a paternity test confirmed he wasn't the biological father.
McMorris, 24, faces two counts of second-degree murder, punishable by up to 30 years in prison, reports The Washington Post.
Suspicions had already arisen about McMorris after he dropped off the 7-month-old girl at day care with signs of abuse, including bruises, scratches and burst blood vessels in one eye.
When asked about the child’s appearance, McMorris claimed the infant was injured at home, according to a statement of probable cause.
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On March 24, three days after a paternity test showed he was not the father, McMorris failed to bring the baby to day care, but called 911 instead.
When emergency responders arrived at a home in Brooklyn Park, near Minneapolis, they found the baby lying on the floor.
She was pronounced dead less than two hours later.
According to the probable cause statement, the child had 11 rib fractures, bruises on her scalp, abdomen, back and buttocks, and internal bleeding from a lacerated liver.
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McMorris’ attorney, Ira Whitlock, tried to cast suspicion on the mother, noting she claimed not to notice the abuse that was obvious to the day care staff.
As Whitlock argued, “Just because a person ends up being the last person with the baby when the baby dies doesn’t mean that person caused the injuries to the baby. Mr. McMorris was with the baby, but it doesn’t mean he inflicted the injuries to the child.”
According to the prosecutor, the child’s mother has not yet been charged in the case.
McMorris is currently at the Hennepin County Jail, awaiting a court hearing on Sept. 22. His bail has been set at $1.5 million.
In Minnesota, a grand jury indictment is required for a person to be charged with first-degree premeditated murder, which is punishable by life without parole.
Freeman noted that prosecutors will decide within six weeks whether the case will be taken to a grand jury.