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Sandy man charged in death of girlfriend’s infant daughter

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Gene Richins, 31, was arrested for investigation of burglary at a Sandy jewelry store Wednesday morning.

Gene Richins, 31, was arrested for investigation of burglary at a Sandy jewelry store Wednesday morning.

Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office

WEST VALLEY CITY — A Sandy man was charged with child abuse homicide Wednesday in connection with the August death of his girlfriend's 8-month-old daughter.

Gene Richins, 31, of Sandy, was charged with the first-degree felony in 3rd District Court following evidence provided by West Valley City police and the State Medical Examiner's Office that the infant's cause of death was homicide.

Police responded to a report of a deceased child the morning of Aug. 9 after the mother of the child found her unresponsive, lying face-down in a playpen.

The mother stated she had gone to bed with the child the night before after taking medication to help her sleep. She awoke about an hour later and put the child in the playpen, according to court documents.

The mother became sedated under the medication, and Richins, her boyfriend, attended to the infant, as well as his own infant daughter, police said.

Richins told police he got up about 11:30 p.m. when his girlfriend's child was crying. He said he fed her a bottle and gave her some of his own daughter's prescription Tylenol using a baby oral syringe, then wrapped her in a blanket and laid her back in the playpen, according to charging documents.

The mother said she kept her medication, which included Trazadone and Xanax, on top of the refrigerator and didn't think her child could have gained access to the pills.

Autopsy results for the infant revealed "unusual gastric contents," according to charging documents. Further toxicology tests were performed and found she had Trazadone in her blood, liver and gastric cavities, along with Tylenol in the same locations.

Forensic testing also found children's Tylenol and Trazadone inside the syringe that Richins said he used to administer medication to the infant, according to police.

Following the autopsy, but before toxicology results were available, Richins "suggested without prompting from detectives that it was possible that (the infant) got her hands on one of her mother's Trazadone (pills)," charging documents state.

A warrant for Richins' arrest was issued in conjunction with the charge. His bail was set at more than $1 million.

A search of court records indicates Richins was charged with theft, a second-degree felony; criminal mischief, a second-degree felony; burglary, a third-degree felony; and the manufacture or possession of burglary tools, a class B misdemeanor for a burglary in February.

Richins also pleaded guilty in 2009 to assault against a police officer, a class A misdemeanor; assault on a health care provider, a class B misdemeanor; interfering with a legal arrest, a class B misdemeanor; and intoxication, a class C misdemeanor.

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com