BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– A Bloomington man was formally charged Tuesday in the death of his 2-month-old daughter.
Robierre McNeil, 33, faces charges of aggravated battery and neglect of a dependent resulting in death of person less than 14 years of age. Preliminary autopsy results released last week revealed evidence of two skull fractures as a result of blunt force trauma.
The mother of the child, whose name is Kenya, told detectives that she had given her a bottle before she left for work at approximately 7:30 a.m. on May 29. Kenya had been in the care of McNeil, her father, for the day. McNeil reported that he checked on her at 4:45 p.m. and found her unresponsive. She was transported to IU Health Bloomington where she was pronounced dead.
McNeil denied any knowledge of how Kenya might have received her injuries. Police said he made statements were inconsistent with evidence in the investigation. He was arrested after being interviewed by police.
In court documents released Tuesday, it was revealed that Kenya’s mother returned home from work around 4 p.m.
“She looked at her daughter in the swing and she appeared to be sleeping,” a detective said in the paperwork.
She then went to the laundromat to meet her mother. While they were there, the mother received a call from another tenant in the apartment who said Kenya was found unresponsive.
Officers searched the home and heard McNeil on the phone saying it was his fault and “he should of checked on her when she had trouble breathing,” according to court documents.
McNeil told detectives he had checked on Kenya around 9:00 a.m. and noticed her snoring, thinking it was a result of asthma. He heard her snoring throughout the day, but said he did not touch her or take her out of the swing for more than seven hours.
A medical examiner said of the baby’s injuries that “…a significant force would cause this type of trauma and that the infant would be suffering from symptoms almost immediately…one symptom would be a snoring effect.”
When police interviewed the other adult in the apartment, she said she got home from work around 10:45 a.m. and everyone was asleep, including McNeil. She said she didn’t check on the child “because she believed (McNeil) was watching her.”
Detectives were not able to find out exactly what happened inside the apartment, but Kenya’s mother did provide a clue. She said “(McNeil) has been frustrated with Kenya in the past…about two weeks ago he had told Kenya ‘Shut the (expletive) up’ because she continued to cry…the next day he came to her because he didn’t want to watch the kids anymore.”
Sandy Runkle-DeLorme, with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, said that frustration isn’t typically a red flag but that it is something to pay attention to and no parent or caretaker should be afraid to ask for help.
“Every parent gets frustrated. It’s what they do with that frustration, do you see it perhaps escalating? When they’re frustrated are they sort of harsh with the child? … Asking for help is huge. Be willing to ask for help,” Runkle-DeLorme said.
A doctor at Riley Hospital for Children with IU Health told FOX59 that a head injury would likely be hard to spot physically, and that the longer a child was not treated, the worse it would get.
McNeil is still being held in the Monroe County Jail.