Glendale father grieves baby daughter allegedly smothered by mother

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(Source: Go Fund Me) (Source: Go Fund Me)
Amber Cherie Sagrnaga (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Amber Cherie Sagrnaga (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

The father of a 6-month-old Glendale baby, who police believe died at the hands of her mother, said he knew his fiancée suffered from depression and other issues, but never believed it could lead to the death of one of their children.

Earlier this month, police arrested Amber Cherie Sagarnaga, 23, for allegedly smothering her baby daughter.

[READ MORE: Glendale mom accused of smothering baby to death]

Phillip Diaz shared an apartment with his fiancée, Sagarnaga, and their three children, Atticus, 2, Orion, 1, and Mary, 6 months.

On June 9, Diaz said he came home from work around 8:30 p.m. and sat on the couch with his two young sons for awhile to relax.

“I sat down for about 10 minutes. I asked where Mary was and she (Sagarnaga) she said she was in the room. So, I get up and I go in there. Just horrible,” Diaz said through tears. “She was under the comforter and I thought she was ok because her body was still warm.”

Investigators believe Sagarnaga tucked a heavy comforter around the baby, who was in a Pack 'n Play, and "then pushed down with force on the comforter where [the baby's] face was at for an unknown amount of time."

Sagarnaga said the baby was still crying after that and that she left the child under the comforter.

According to the court paperwork, Sagarnaga "denied wanting to hurt [her baby] but knew putting a heavy blanket on [her] could cause what eventually happened."

[RELATED: Glendale woman accused of 2nd-degree murder in baby's death]

 Diaz said he realized little Mary was not breathing, so he started CPR and dialed 911. The baby was rushed to the hospital where she was pronounced dead.

“I can't really ah ... get her face out of my head. I try to but it's hard,” said Diaz.

Diaz said after having had two sons, he was thrilled when he and Sagarnaga learned they were expecting a girl.

The mother has a long history of abuse and neglect, but she was still allowed custody of her kids.

“It felt great to know I was going to have a little girl. I already got two boys and they'll be able to grow up with her and you know, protect her and she'll have big brothers,” said Diaz.

The grieving father said Mary smiled all the time and was a happy baby who was just starting to learn to pull herself forward and play with her big brothers.

“They loved her. They would give her kisses on the face,” Diaz said, choking back tears.

The mother had a history with the Department of Child Services. In October 2015, DCS investigated a report alleging neglect by Sagarnaga regarding one of her sons. DCS provided in-home services and closed the case a year later.

Diaz said he was never afraid to leave his kids alone with their mom. But now he’s not sure what was going on.

“I'm never going to forgive her. I'm never going to get with her but I just want her to get the help she needs. Somewhere deep down, I still love her a little bit. I think it's just cause shes the mom of my kids, you know,” said Diaz.

DCS removed Diaz’s two sons and place them in foster care the night police arrested Sagarnaga. Diaz said he is fighting to get his two boys back.

"I just can't handle not having my boys with me. Just makes it a lot worse," said Diaz.

Mary was cremated, according to Diaz, but she hasn’t yet been given a proper memorial service.

He is trying to raise money to help with that.

If you can help, a Go Fund Me account has been set up.

[PDF: Amber Cherie Sagarnaga's court paperwork]

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