A Paterson New Jersey man pleaded not guilty to charges of raping and murdering a three-year-old girl.
According to Passaic County prosecutors, the 30-year-old suspect sexually assaulted the young victim. Authorities said that the victim was the daughter of the suspect’s 33-year-old girlfriend.
The girlfriend was also charged in connection with the victim’s death because she allegedly allowed the sex offenses to take place. Prosecutors also allege that the girlfriend lied to investigators and tampered with evidence in the case.
On January 20, 2016, both suspects rushed the victim to the emergency room at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson, New Jersey. The victim had sustained head trauma and was unresponsive.
The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office Special Victims Unit looked into the incident and determined that the suspects had caused the victim’s injuries.
The male suspect was initially charged with aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault, while the female suspect was charged with endangering the welfare of a child. However, the charges against the male suspect were upgraded to first degree murder, while the charges against the female suspect were upgraded to aggravated manslaughter, after the victim died due to her brain injury.
If the male suspect is convicted of first degree murder, he would be subject to severe criminal penalties. As set forth by N.J.S.A. 2C:11-3, murder is the most serious criminal offense in the New Jersey Criminal Code. A conviction on first degree murder charges could lead to life imprisonment in NJ State Prison, with a minimum mandatory term of incarceration of 30 years behind bars.
For more information about this case, go to the NJ.com article, “Couple Charged in Rape, Death of 3-Year-Old Girl Plead Not Guilty.”