An Idaho man has been arrested and charged in the horrific death of his 2-month-old baby girl.
Roger Aaron Denig, 21, stands accused of one count of murder in the first degree after Ammarie Denig died last Friday, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by East Idaho News.
At around 9:40 last Wednesday morning, the Lemhi County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call from the girl’s mother. Her daughter, she said, was not breathing. Deputies were told that the entire Denig family – father included – were going to a local hospital in the area. The eastern part of Lemhi County, named after a Mormon missionary, borders Montana.
“[Roger] Denig had started CPR,” the affidavit obtained by East Idaho News Director Nate Eaton reads. “[The girl’s mother] kept saying she’s not breathing, then barely breathing, to she isn’t moving at all.”
An ambulance intercepted the family en route to the hospital, the affidavit says. There, paramedics noticed what appeared to be “yellow bruises on the forehead from eyebrow to eyebrow, and some bruises to the infant’s upper body” that signified older injuries, a deputy wrote.
The defendant allegedly told paramedics his daughter suffers from laryngomalacia, which is congenital, meaning a baby is born with it.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the congenital disability is “characterized by the softening of the tissues above the larynx,” and babies “with this condition usually have stridor (noisy or high-pitched breathing).”
This condition, Denig allegedly said, caused his daughter to choke.
At Steele Memorial Medical Center in Salmon, doctors resuscitated the child and recovered her heartbeat. Then, she was flown to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. A CT scan showed “multiple brain injuries,” the affidavit says. Once again, the child was airlifted to more apt quarters – this time to Primary Children’s Hospital. A doctor there specializing in child abuse and neglect determined that the girl’s brain was no longer functioning.
“Additional signs show tearing of the brain, which is consistent with a sudden, external, physical assault,” the affidavit says. “There is retinal hemorrhage in both eyes, which is present with traumatic head injuries, (and) the CT scan showed several broken ribs in various stages of healing that could be between 10 to 14 days old, (and) signs of old bruises on the child’s chest.”
Ammarie Denig, the doctor determined, had traumatic brain injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome. The baby was on life support for several days before dying late Friday night.
An autopsy determined the presence of even more broken ribs in various stages of healing. The medical examiner determined the young girl died from a traumatic head injury.
Investigators followed up with the infant’s parents. On the day in question, her mother said she and the defendant twice left the baby with her grandmother when they went to the dump to drop off some garbage. When they returned home for the final time, the mother told law enforcement she and her daughter went to lie down. She said the baby woke from a nap crying, and her father came and got her.
“Denig came into the room and got Ammarie from the bed and took her to the other room where they have a rocking chair to rock her because she likes that,” the girl’s mother told investigators.
The girl’s mother fell asleep but woke to the sound of her husband saying their daughter could not breathe and had turned blue.
“[W]hen the medical staff advised Ammarie had traumatic brain injury, [the girl’s mother] stated she thought it may have been from driving on the rough road to get to the ambulance, or the lack of oxygen to the brain had caused this,” the affidavit says. “[The girl’s mother] stated she did not have physical control of Ammarie from the time Denig took her from the bed and went to the other room.”
The defendant allegedly had a similar explanation, saying his daughter’s brain injuries came from the rough road to the hospital.
But detectives asked Roger Denig about the girl’s other injuries as well.
“Denig stated maybe they patted her too hard because one time while he was patting her back, he heard crackling noises,” the affidavit says – in response to a question about the girl’s broken ribs.
A deputy also confronted the defendant with a rejection of the rough road theory – instead saying that someone battered the girl. The affidavit says: “This detective believes the infant’s injuries were not a medical issue and the child was willfully and deliberately tortured.”
The affidavit documents what allegedly happened next:
Denig stated, “You think I caused this?” I advised, “Yes.” I asked if he shook her due to his frustration or anger with Ammarie due to her fussiness and/or crying.
Denig stated he didn’t think so. He stated he was bouncing her … and maybe he shook her harder than he thought.
Roger Denig was arrested Saturday in Lemhi County, East Idaho News reports. He was arraigned Monday and given $500,000 bail by Magistrate Judge Andrew Woolf. The defendant is currently detained in the Lemhi County Jail. His next court appearance is slated for July 7.
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Roger Aaron Denig accused of murdering 2-month-old daughter
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