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Judge denies motion to dismiss charges against man accused of killing 7-week-old infant

(Bakersfield Police Department/Facebook)

A Kern County Superior Court judge denied a motion Tuesday to dismiss charges against a man accused of killing his 7-week-old infant.

Defense attorney David Torres argued in court evidence didn’t show Gregory Higgins acted with an intent to kill or any malice — the acts which led to Higgins’ baby dying arose from accidental mishandling during a stressful event. But prosecutor Stephanie Zigler said Higgins’ shifting story and emotionless demeanor pointed to his guilt for murder and assault charges.

The Bakersfield Police Department went to the 9100 block of Kern Canyon Road in April 2022 after receiving reports of an infant who wasn’t breathing. Police said they discovered trauma consistent with child abuse and arrested Higgins in connection to the baby’s death.

Higgins worked from home in April 2022 when his daughter began fussing in her bassinet, according to probable cause statements filed by the Bakersfield Police Department in this case and retrieved from Kern County Superior Court. The infant — who had Down syndrome — was gasping for air, so Higgins said he attempted to provide CPR, the probable cause statements said.

Torres argued Tuesday these actions by Higgins prove there’s insufficient evidence to support a murder charge. Higgins attempted to save his child, called 911 and was still rendering aid when BPD officers arrived, Torres said.

“None of his actions were cold or callous,” Torres said.

But Zigler noted Higgins cannot be trusted because his story changed several times during interviews with law enforcement. When police officers pointed out how evidence didn’t support Higgins’ recounts of the incident, the defendant began to change his story, she noted.

Traumatic situations cause people to lose focus and have a difficult time answering questions, Torres said. His client was stressed and exhausted when he was interviewed by police and had been awake more than 24 hours, Torres added.

Numerous officers and Child Protective Services workers barraged his client with questions while the baby girl was being treated at the hospital, Torres said. It’s important to consider all these factors to understand Higgins, he added.

Higgins knew how to handle a baby with Down syndrome but didn’t do that several times, Zigler argued. There were multiple incidents in which Higgins injured the baby — one time, he bumped the infant’s forehead and didn’t tell the mother, Zigler said.

He knew exactly how his actions would affect the baby and “acted anyway,” Zigler said.

A person doesn’t act without emotion once told their baby may not survive, even if their personality is stoic or if they’re tired, Zigler said.

Judge Elizabet Rodriguez said the evidence against Higgins was sufficient enough for a judge to bound him for trial at a preliminary hearing and denied a motion to dismiss all charges.

A readiness hearing was set for April 4 to see if attorneys can proceed to trial.


(c) 2023 The Bakersfield Californian

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