PHOENIX (3TV/CBS5) – A Phoenix man is facing charges of first-degree murder and child abuse in the death of his infant daughter over the summer. Police arrested Shawn Douglas Conner, 26, on Monday, more than three months after his baby girl died.
The case goes back to July 4, when police say Conner was caring for the infant and his two other children – a 3-year-old boy and a 1-year-old girl. They were in a hotel room, and the baby's mother was at work.
According to public court documents, Conner told police he was bathing the baby in the bathroom sink when he heard a commotion from the other kids. He went to check on them, leaving the baby alone in the sink with the water running. It's not clear how long the baby, less than a month old, was by herself in the sink. Conner told police that she was unresponsive when he returned to the bathroom.
Court documents say Conner tried to resuscitate the baby and then called her mother, who told him to call 911. He did that, according to police, and then ran with the baby to the manager's office of the hotel. He reportedly left her with hotel employees while he returned to the room to get his other children.
Doctors who tried to save the baby "observed the victim to have bruising under her jawline, on her abdomen and on her ear," explains Conner's probable cause for arrest statement. Court paperwork says the mother did not see any marks on the baby when she put her in her bassinette before leaving for work that day.
Police later learned that the baby "had sustained a significant head injury along with multiple injuries through out (sic) her body which are inconsistent with a history of being submerged in water," according to court documents. She was taken off life support and died on July 8, police said. The medical examiner said the cause of death was blunt force trauma and ruled the baby's death a homicide.
When the Department of Child Safety spoke with Conner the day the baby died, his story was the same, but there were more details than police noted from their initial interview. He reportedly told the investigator he was cleaning up the baby after she soiled her diaper and left her in the bathroom sink when he heard his other daughter crying.
"The [baby's] body had covered the opening of the drain and her head was now tilted with water running on her face," court documents explain. "Shawn picked the victim up and began to hit her in order to resuscitate her. Shawn struck the victim on her back, her chest and the side of her head with his hand. Shawn next grabbed the victim by her ankles and placed her upside down over his back while running around the room."
According to court documents, Conner told the DCS investigator that he tripped as he was running with the baby to the manager's office. "Shawn tripped and fell onto a concrete surface which his body landed on top of the victim. Shawn stood up and continued to the [office]," the probable cause statement reads.
When police spoke with Conner on Monday, he told them he "attempted a life saving (sic) technique he observed on YouTube which involved holding the victim upside down over his shoulders," the arresting officers wrote in the probable cause statement. It's not clear when he saw that video. Conner also reportedly "admitted he was the only adult care giver (sic) and the only one who could have caused the injuries the victim sustained."
A judge set a secured appearance bond of $500,000 for Conner, and set a preliminary hearing for Nov. 4.