A Texas father beat and suffocated his 2-year-old daughter to death after she interrupted him while he played computer games, police said.
Anthony Michael Sanders, 31, was charged Friday with capital murder in the December death of Ellie Sanders, who was found unresponsive on her parents’ bed after spending the day with her father and older brother, according to an arrest affidavit filed by Watauga police.
The little girl and her 5-year-old brother were left with Sanders while his wife went to an art show about 10 a.m. December 12.
About 30 minutes after the mother returned to their suburban Fort Worth home about 8:30 p.m., the toddler’s brother tried to wake his sister, according to police.
“He went in there and told (his parents) that she was sleeping and wouldn’t wake up,” Watauga police Sgt. Jason Babcock told the Star-Telegram.
Though the unaware mother told the boy to let her sleep, Sanders went in to check on Ellie and started yelling for his wife to call 911 because their daughter wasn’t breathing.
Emergency responders rushed the child to a local hospital, but she could not be saved and was pronounced dead at 10:10 p.m.
The child was found to have severe bruising all over her body, including her face, head and around her eyes, marks that are commonly referred to by doctors as "raccoon eyes" typically caused by asphyxiation.
Doctors also found blood behind her ear and two bite marks on her back that appeared to have been made by an adult, authorities said.
Police say Sanders told them he had checked on Ellie numerous times and even changed her diaper about 30 minutes before his wife came home.
"She appeared fine and was up watching television in the bedroom laughing," Sanders told police, the arrest affidavit said.
Police said Sanders is responsible for the child’s death, saying they believe he caused the bruises and bite marks and killed her when he held his hand over her face, Babcock told the paper.
"Anthony, by his own admission, was the only adult that was in the residence during the time the injuries were inflicted upon his daughter which caused her death,” a detective wrote in the arrest affidavit.
“He’s very involved in computer gaming. … That’s something he did constantly,” Babcock told the Star-Telegram. “She may have interrupted him somehow. His day may have been interrupted.”
Tarrant County medical examiner’s office ruled this month that Ellie’s death was a homicide by asphyxiation. Her father was arrested the next day.
His bail was set at $1 million.
After Ellie’s death, Child Protective Services took custody of her brother, who is now 6. He has been placed in the care of a relative, a CPS spokeswoman told the paper.
The family had no prior history with CPS.