A 28-year-old Tooele County woman has been charged with beating her 15-month-old daughter to death last month.
April Dawn Carter, of Wendover, is charged in Tooele’s 3rd District Court with first-degree felony aggravated murder and second-degree felony obstructing justice in the Sept. 27 death of Baylie Serenity Rutherford.
An autopsy showed the girl suffered blunt force trauma to her brain and abdomen, according to charging documents.
There also were bruises on the girl’s head, face, neck, chest, elbows and feet, charges state, and eight of her ribs were fractured, some of which were older, healing injuries.
The victim had been removed at birth by child welfare authorities due to drug use by the parents, and because the victim and several siblings tested positive for illegal substances, according to charges.
The girl died after being back in the home for just over a month.
Following her death, four other children, ages 11, 5, 3 and 6 months, were removed from the home.
Charges state that in the early hours of Sept. 27, the victim’s father, Nicholas Rutherford, came home from work and found Carter holding the child, who was pale and not breathing, charges state.
Rutherford told police he attempted CPR. He also told Carter to call 911, but she refused, charges state.
The father then called for a taxi cab and took his 6-month-old and 3-year-old children to their grandmother’s home in West Wendover because he didn’t want the children to “see their sister,” he later told police.
Rutherford said he made no attempt of his own to call 911, claiming fatigue from sleep deprivation affected his ability to think clearly, charges state.
It was the grandmother who called 911 and summoned Wendover police to the home, according to the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office.
The father told investigators that bruises on the girl’s legs likely came from kicking things and from bad circulation, charges state. He added that the girl was “acting normal” when he last saw her before going to work at a West Wendover casino.
During her interview with police, Carter admitted to tripping and falling on the girl, but would not provide any further explanation about her death, except that she was “cold and limp” when Carter picked her up, charges state.
Carter also could not explain her failure to render aid to the girl, charges state.
The girl had been returned to the home by the state Division of Child and Family Services on Aug. 24, after a trial home placement, charges state.
Prosecutors initially charged Carter with capital murder, which is punishable by death. But they amended the charge to first-degree felony aggravated murder, who is punishable by up 25 years to life in prison, or life without parole.
Carter is being held at the Tooele County jail in lieu of $2.5 million bail.
A scheduling hearing in the court case is set for Oct. 31.