Testimony begins in murder trial for father in ‘Baby Janna’ case

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Baby Janna (left) and Jeff Fairbanks (right)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The trial began Monday for a man accused of killing his newborn daughter in 2015.

The case prompted a large search across the Indianapolis area for 3-month-old Janna Rivera. Her father, Jeff Fairbanks, was eventually charged with murder in the high-profile case.

After selecting a jury, both sides gave their opening statements and the first witness in the case was called.

Janna’s father admitted the girl died, but her body was never found.

In an exclusive interview with FOX59 in 2015, before he was charged with murder, Fairbanks admitted he found his daughter dead and panicked.

“I didn’t want anyone to see her like that,” said Fairbanks in 2015.

Fairbanks also confessed that he wrapped the three month old in a blanket before driving around for hours and eventually putting her body in a dumpster.

“I wasn’t trying to get rid of my baby. I don’t know what I was doing.  My baby was already gone,” said Fairbanks.

Court documents show that Fairbanks sometimes covered Janna’s face with a pillow to stop her from crying. On one of those instances—May 28, 2015—the baby died in his bed.

The case set off a massive search across the Indianapolis area for the missing baby. Police said Fairbanks gave conflicting and confusing stories about what happened during early interviews.

He said he put her body in a dumpster after the three-month-old died from natural causes. He told the girl’s mother that Janna died and he put a cross in the ground where she was buried. He later told her that he’d made the story up to make her feel better.

Investigators spent months searching landfills and eventually recovered a blanket, but never recovered Janna’s body.

Without a body, legal experts say it’s impossible to scientifically prove how baby Janna died, making it hard to prove murder, but it can happen.

In order to convict Fairbanks of murder, prosecutors will have to prove Fairbanks intentionally hurt baby Janna.

The trial is expected to last the next couple of days. In addition to murder, Fairbanks is also facing a charge of neglect resulting in death.