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Utah couple charged in death of 15-month-old girl

WENDOVER, Utah — A Wendover couple has been charged in connection with the death of their 15-month-old daughter, according to police.

April Carter and Nicholas Rutherford were both booked into the Tooele County Detention Center on September 30, following a police investigation.

On September 27, officers were dispatched to the cardiac arrest of a 15-month-old girl at 571 S Red Cedar Way in Wendover.  According to a probable cause statement,  responding officers noticed bruises on the victim’s body, which neither Carter or Rutherford could account for.

Investigators received a warrant to enter the family’s home, which was in, “detestable condition,” according to police.

Investigators contacted the Utah Division of Child and Family Services concerning the welfare of other children living at the home. DCFS  removed an 11-year-old, 5-year-old, 3-year-old and 6-month-old pending further investigation

When interviewed about his toddler’s death, Rutherford said he had worked the night before on a graveyard shift at the Montego Bay casino in West Wendover.  He stated that when he came home he found Carter holding the victim by their bedroom, and that she was not breathing.

Rutherford said he told Carter to call 911 to get help, and she replied no. Police said Rutherford made no attempt to call 911 on his own accord, blaming fatigue and sleep deprivation for why he was not thinking clearly.

On Thursday, the Office of the Medical Examiner performed an external examination on the victim. During the exam, the doctor documented multiple bruises on the victim’s head, face, neck, chest, elbows and feet. The Medical Examiner also obtained a spinal fluid sample, which contained blood consistent with head trauma.

On Friday, an autopsy by the Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that the victim suffered multiple rib fractures, which were not consistent with resuscitation efforts.

Autopsy results also revealed that the victim had signs of brain swelling and brain hemorrhage, which were not the result of normal childhood developmental concerns, but were the result of severe blunt force trauma.

Investigators brought Carter and Rutherford into the Tooele County Sheriffs Office for follow-up interviews on Saturday.

According to the probable cause statement, Carter then admitted that she tripped and fell on the 15-month-old. Carter would not provide any further explanation about her daughter’s death, nor could she explain her failure to call 911.

Rutherford told investigators that Carter told him she intended to confess if investigators found any incriminating information about the death.

Carter was booked for child abuse homicide, obstruction of justice and an outstanding warrant.  Rutherford was booked for child abuse and obstruction of justice.

Authorities noted that the couple had only recently gotten back custody of the child.  Rutherford and Carter had the baby for 33 days before she passed away, police said.  Both suspects have a history of drug abuse, the probable cause statement said.