2 charged in infant starvation on suicide watch

AP News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2014 5:39 PM

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia man and his 23-year-old daughter charged in the starvation death of an infant are under a suicide watch in jail, which has prevented them from preparing for court, their attorneys said Friday.

The man's attorney, Walt Britt, said his client is not suicidal but does not want to speak with police or doctors at the jail and until recently could not have access to paper or a pen. He said the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department should be ordered to remove the man from suicide watch. The daughter's attorney, Charles Wrinkle, said his client was "similarly situated."

Chief Gwinnett County Magistrate Judge Kristina Blum delayed the preliminary hearing but said she didn't have the proper training to decide who may be suicidal. Blum said the sheriff's department makes that decision.

Britt said the nature of the charges prompted the suicide watch. A phone message for a sheriff's department spokeswoman was not immediately returned on Friday afternoon.

The 44-year-old man and his daughter face charges including felony and malice murder, cruelty to children, and cruelty to a physically disabled adult. The man was also charged with rape, incest and aggravated sodomy of his daughter.

Police have said the man brought his 15-month-old daughter to an emergency room on Nov. 11, but she was already dead. The Gwinnett County Medical Examiner has said the infant died of starvation.

Police later found the infant's 21-year-old mother, who weighed 59 pounds, and three young children severely malnourished at a hotel where the father was living. They say the man fathered two of the children with his 23-year-old daughter.

Both the man and his daughter attended Friday's hearing, wearing identical green uniforms and were seated at a table with two attorneys between them.

The Associated Press does not identify possible victims of sexual crimes, and isn't naming the man because that could identify the daughter.

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Associated Press writer Kate Brumback contributed to this report.