Phoenix man accused of killing girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver
By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix man has been arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend's 3-year-old daughter.

Andres Venegas, 29, lived with his girlfriend and her daughters, ages 3 and 8, and was watching the kids Monday while she was at work, according to Maricopa County Superior Court documents.

Around 2 p.m., Phoenix police responded to the apartment near 79th Avenue and McDowell Road for a report of an injured child.

Venegas reportedly told investigators that the toddler was standing on the bathroom counter, which is about 2 feet 8 inches tall, while he was shaving. He said he briefly turned away from her and when he turned back, he saw her falling backward.

He told police he had her in bathroom because he wanted to spend time with her, according to court documents.

He carried her into the kitchen and called 911, explaining to the operator that she landed on carpet, striking her head and back, and then began seizing.

The child was transported by emergency responders to Phoenix Children's Hospital, where she was pronounced brain dead Wednesday morning.

Police initially ruled the child's death accidental in nature, but a homicide detective began looking into the child's death after being contacted by the Office of Child Welfare Investigations on Tuesday afternoon.

Physicians told the detective the girl's injuries were highly suspicious, according to court documents.

The 8-year-old girl told police in an interview Wednesday that she and her sister had been eating lunch in the dining area when Venegas became angry with the child for not eating fast enough, according to court documents. She said he then took her sister into the master bathroom, and she heard loud sounds similar to someone being hit.

She also reported hearing the 3-year-old girl scream before Venegas returned to the kitchen carrying her limp body.

According to court documents, the older sister heard Venegas tell the 911 operator that the child had fallen from the counter and was afraid that if she didn't go along with the story, Venegas would be taken to jail and she would be grounded.

Venegas told the detective he was trying to get the child to eat lunch faster but was not mad, according to court documents.

He also said she fell on hardwood floor, not carpet as originally reported, and cried for two to three seconds after falling.

Venegas was arrested Wednesday night and booked into a Maricopa County jail.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 23.