Iron County couple charged with murder in 14-month-old girl’s death

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CEDAR CITY, Utah – A couple from Iron County are facing murder and child abuse charges after Dea’s 14-month-old daughter died.

Brendan Dalton

According to court documents, Cherokee May Dea and her boyfriend Brendan Russel Dalton have been charged with murder, child abuse and endangerment of a child in the girl’s April 2017 death.

Iron County authorities said Dea and Dalton took the baby girl to the hospital on April 14 when she stopped breathing.

Doctors determined the girl suffered a brain injury.

A medical helicopter then rushed the girl to Primary Children’s Medical Center, where she was put on life support and died April 17.

The medical examiner determined the girl died from blunt force trauma to the head/brain and ruled her death a homicide.

The girl had prior injuries which were in the process of healing; two broken ribs and an arm broken in two places.

Investigators learned the baby had been in the hospital days earlier on April 1 for strep throat and severe dehydration; she was released April 3.

The medical examiner said the baby tested positive for morphine.

Authorities said Dea and Dalton could not explain the girl’s injuries or the morphine.

Cherokee May Dea

However, both admitted to using drugs on a daily basis.

Cedar City officers said Dea told them she and Dalton regularly use meth, heroin and marijuana.

Dea told police she and Dalton had been fighting about breaking up the night the girl stopped breathing.

Officers spoke to a witness who reported seeing Dea allegedly shake her daughter and yell at her about six months before the baby’s death in April.

Dea told authorities Dalton “does have a temper” but “she never saw him do anything to [the girl] to cause these type of injuries.”

Dea and Dalton were arrested and are being held without bail.

They are due in court Jan. 3, 2018.

[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated Dalton is the girl’s father.]