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Kristopher Houchin, 26, of South Dakota, stands accused of the rape and murder of a 6-month-old L’Naya Love White.
Capt. James Johns of the Rapid City Police Department says that Houchin had been babysitting the 6-month-old on Friday morning in the 800 block of Willsie Avenue. Houchin is a close friend of the infant’s mother, reports KDIT TV.
L’Naya was taken to Rapid City Regional Hospital on June 26 by Houchin and other caregivers. The Rapid City Police Department was notified the infant had died around 12:15 p.m.
Official’s state that a preliminary autopsy indicates that L’Naya suffered a brain bleed that was result of blunt force trauma. Officials state that L’Naya also suffered from Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is an injury to infants caused by the child being shaken repeatedly and violently. The violent shaking can result in detached retinas leading to blindness, swelling of the brain, internal bleeding, retardation, and even death. Shaken Baby Syndrome can happen to children up to 5-years-old. Symptoms of Shaken Baby Syndrome include uncontrollable crying, sudden change in sleeping patterns, vomiting, irritability, convulsions or seizures, and the inability to nurse or eat.
Authorities state that the investigation is still ongoing. They are looking into the events that took place prior to the L’Naya’s arrival at the hospital. Johns stated that it is a “fair assumption” that the rape and abuse happened “within a short period.” L’Naya’s mother was not in the home at the time of the incident.
Authorities were unaware of the situation until they were contacted by officials at the Regional Hospital, reports HLN TV.
At this time, investigators say that it is unknown if drugs or alcohol were involved.
Johns states that when authorities arrived at the hospital, Houchin was still there.
Officers arrested Houchin on Friday night on suspicion of rape and child abuse. Houchin was taken to the Pennington County Jail.
Houchin has been officially charged with first-degree rape, second-degree murder, and child abuse.
During his initial court appearance on Tuesday, Houchin cried throughout most of the hearing, and at the end proceedings Houchin was heard mumbling the words, “I’m sorry.”
Prosecutors in the case told the presiding magistrate Judge Matt Brown that Houchin admitted to shaking L’Naya multiple times. Houchin’s bond has been set at $5 million.
A trial date for Houchin has not been set.
A candlelight vigil for L’Naya was held on Wednesday at 8 p.m. at the Memorial Park. Hundreds of people came to the vigil to support the White family. Both strangers and friends held candles and brought gifts as they paid their respects. There was not a dry eye as a moment of silence was held.