Utah father charged with murder in death of 3-month-old daughter

The girl’s mother is also facing a charge of obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) The parents of a 3-month-old West Valley City girl were charged in connection with her death, the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office announced Tuesday.

The parents of a West Valley City girl were charged Tuesday in connection with the 3-month-old child’s death, the Salt Lake County district attorney’s office announced in a news release.

The infant’s father, 21-year-old Israel Levi Gonzalez Gomez, faces one count of first-degree murder, or two alternative counts of reckless child abuse homicide and child abuse, court records show. The infant’s mother, 20-year-old Andrea Galeana, was charged with one count of obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.

The infant was first taken to a hospital on Feb. 19 after her father told police that she went “limp and pale” while he bounced her to sleep that night.

The baby went into cardiac arrest three times while on the way to the hospital, court records state. Three days later, she was pronounced dead.

Gonzalez Gomez told investigators that before putting his daughter to sleep, he had “lightly spanked her” as he tried to soothe her, court documents state. The child “cried excessively” for the first few weeks of her life, and the father was “desperate” for a way to calm her down, the documents state.

Four days after the child died, Gonzalez Gomez admitted to investigators that the baby had fallen after he’d placed her on the edge of his bed while changing her, according to court documents. One side of the infant’s face became red and swollen, he told police, and her breathing became “shortened.”

After the fall, the baby’s mother walked in as Gonzalez Gomez put the girl in her crib, the father told police. That’s when the child became limp, he said.

Once the child was taken to the hospital, doctors documented serious injuries that they felt were consistent with child abuse, according to the news release.

During the investigation, detectives seized both parents’ cell phones, where they found various web searches on the mother’s phone, including, “‘Why does my baby have blood in their eye?’” and “‘What to do if my 2-month baby is intoxicated?,’” according to court documents.

Investigators also found texts between the two parents, including one thread where Gonzalez Gomez sent a picture of the baby with bruises on her cheeks and asked Galeana if he had pinched the baby too hard.

Galeana told Gonzalez Gomez to “stop grabbing my baby so roughly,” to which he responded that he wouldn’t “grab her like that” again. She later texted him that the infant looked like someone had hit her, and he replied, “If I would have hit her, trust me, she would not stop bleeding,” court documents states.

Detectives later learned that the mother did not initially disclose to doctors that the infant had suffered previous injuries — including a torn frenulum (a small piece of tissue that sits under the upper lip) and a black eye in January, court documents state.

Both Gonzalez Gomez and Galeana are being held at the Salt Lake County jail. They are next scheduled to appear in court on March 11. The father, who court records described as a Mexican national, was on an immigration hold as of Tuesday. Prosecutors when arguing for no bail said he could flee the court’s jurisdiction if released, court records state.

“It is critical that we vigilantly look out for the welfare of our community’s children,” Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said in a statement. “If you see signs that may indicate harm being done to a child, please report your concerns to law enforcement so they can be investigated and the child may get the help they deserve.”