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"Perfect" Father To Stand Trial For Murdering Infant Daughter
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
September 15, 2004

NELSON, NEW ZEALAND--His wife describes him as the "perfect husband and father".

"He put his daughters and myself before himself," she said this week. "He is an exceptional husband and father."

On May 14, that "exceptional" husband and father closed his hand over the mouth and nose of his five-month-old daughter until she suffocated to death, police say.

After a three-day depositions hearing, the Nelson District Court on Wednesday sent the case to the High Court, where the man will stand trial November 15 for the crime.

The Nelson Mail reported that the man has pleaded not guilty to murdering the baby.

The names of both the 33-year-old defendant and his wife are being withheld from the public for the time being.

The court was told that the mother had become distraught earlier in the day when the couple learned that the baby had lissencephaly, a condition in which her brain stopped forming early during the pregnancy. At a hospital nurse's station -- surrounded by nearly a dozen onlookers -- a doctor showed the parents magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) pictures of their daughter's brain compared to those of "normal" brains. The doctor went on to say that the girl would never walk, never talk, never eat solid food and would need 24-hour care until she died at an early age, probably during a bout with pneumonia.

After the family arrived home, the mother went on to bed, but the father insisted on staying up with his daughter.

"All I wanted to do was give her a cuddle and tell her it was all right," he said in a police interview. "But I looked at her and it wasn't right for a little kid to go through life like that.

In the taped interview heard in court this week, the father was heard telling police how he killed his daughter, and then considered killing himself.

"Then I lay down under a bush and hoped no-one would ever find me, I just wanted to die with my little girl."

Police, following a tip from a family friend, found him a couple of blocks away from the home, still clutching his daughter's body.

"I had been optimistic that at worse she'd be a little bit slow," he said. "But she wasn't, she was never going to grow up, she was going to get to a level and stop."

The case appears similar to many others each year in which children with disabilities, are murdered "for their own good". Some criminologists have found that few cases of such "altruistic filicide" are actually done to prevent the child's "suffering", but for the parent to maintain control over a seemingly uncontrollable situation.

Related stories from The Nelson Mail:
"'Perfect husband' murdered brain-damaged baby, court told"
"Mother wished baby had been stillborn"
"Father 'extremely emotional' over dead daughter"
"Baby killer's despair told in police tape"


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