Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mark Guenther charged in the death of 15-month-old daughter

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2010 at 12:16 PM

click to enlarge Mark A. Guenther
  • Mark A. Guenther

Jackson County prosecutors charged Mark A. Guenther Wednesday with two counts of first-degree assault in connection with the death of his 15-month-old daughter, Elizabeth Guenther.

Lee's Summit police confirmed today that Elizabeth Guenther was pronounced dead around 9 a.m. yesterday.

Court documents say on February 8 around 2:10 p.m., officers responded to a call of an unresponsive child at 114 S.W. Donovan Road in Lee's Summit.

A doctor at Children's Mercy Hospital told police that Elizabeth Guenther had suffered the following injuries:

  • a bruise to her forehead
  • a skull fracture to the back of her head along with blood on her brain the area of the fracture
  • bruises on her jaw line on both sides of her face along with bruising under the jaw line
  • retinal hemorrhages in both eyes
  • a small bruise on her lower left abdominal area around the top of her left hipbone
  • a bruise on her right knee
  • a bruise on her left arm below her elbow
Police

say the doctor will testify that Elizabeth Guenther's injuries were the

result of "abuse." The doctor told police that the bruises on the

girl's jaw line were the result of a hand being wrapped around the

front of the girl's neck. The doctor added that if Elizabeth Guenther

did survive, she would have severe brain damage.

In an

interview with police on February 8, Mark Guenther gave a couple of

different stories before finally admitting that he was "trying to

restrain" his daughter on the bed to give her a breathing treatment for

asthma and she was fighting him and being a "troublemaker." Guenther

admitted being "too forceful," using his leg to pin the girl's legs

down, because she was a "pretty strong girl." Afterward, he noticed red

marks and bruising on the girl.

When officers asked him how long he had his hands around his daughter's

neck, Guenther said "two minutes." Guenther recalled that afterward,

his daughter was "out of it" and "just laying there" so he decided to

give her a bath to wake her up. Elizabeth Guenther was "wobbly" and

didn't want to move. Guenther said he waited to call for help because

he was scared.

Court records say Mark Guenther admitted growing "frustrated" and

"upset" with his daughter's crying and admitted that he "smacked her in

the back of the head" for being "fussy." Guenther demonstrated that he

had punched the girl with a closed fist twice in the back of the head,

and added that the girl's head struck the table. Guenther told police

that the girl was "quiet" and just "laid there" afterward. "I wasn't

trying to hit her that hard," Guenther told police.

The detective interviewing Guenther believed that he'd used more force.

Guenther confessed that his daughter was still crying so he took her

out of the high chair, pushed her on the floor and grabbed her by the

neck and shoulders and threw her onto the carpeted living room floor

three or four times.

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