NJ cop, wife killed baby after months of abuse, indictment says
EWING — The police officer and wife accused of abusing thehir newborn baby for two months — as well as keeping her from medical care before she died — have both been indicted.
Daniel Bannister, 31, was indicted on one count of first-degree murder and Catherine Bannister was indicted on one count of second-degree reckless manslaughter in the death of their three-month-old baby, Hailey, the Mercer County Prosecutor's Office announced Friday.
Both were additionally indicted on one count of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
Hailey Rose Bannister died in December, days after she was admitted to the hospital suffering from a heart attack, broken ribs, fractured skull and a bleeding brain.
The December 2018 was considered by investigators to be suspicious from the start. Seven months later, Daniel Bannister Jr., a police officer in Ewing, was arrested and charged with his baby's murder. His wife, charter school teacher Catherine Bannister, was charged at the time as well.
Court documents obtained by New Jersey 101.5 reveal that investigators believe that the baby girl spent at least two months suffering before her death.
According to the text of the criminal complaint and affidavit of probable cause against the father, Bannister Jr. was responsible for causing serious bodily injury and the eventual death of his daughter on various dates between Oct. 4 and Dec. 5 — the date when Hailey Rose's mother finally called 911 to report that the baby was struggling to breathe.
The criminal complaint against the mother says she caused harm to her child by specifically failing to advise medical personnel of injuries and symptoms on multiple occasions and refusing medical testing and procedures on various dates between Oct. 4 and Dec. 5 of last year. The baby was born Aug. 28, 2018.
In an announcement of the indictment, the prosecutor's office said Hailey’s cause of death was complications from blunt impact trauma of the head, including skull fractures and subdural hemorrhage.
"The nature of Hailey’s injuries indicated an ongoing pattern of abuse," it said.
Bannister Jr. had been a police officer since 2017. He was suspended with pay in December. The suspension became unpaid after he was charged with murder.
His wife's online resume says she had been a kindergarten teacher since 2014 at Foundation Academies in Trenton. The Trentonian on Thursday reported that the school declined to renew her contract in May after she went on leave following the death of her daughter.
The couple also have a son.
In a 911 call placed by Catherine Bannister, she tells the 911 dispatcher that her baby was struggling to breathe.
"My husband is an officer, so he’s working with her right now, but we need help," she said.
Emergency medical technicians said the baby was suffering a heart attack when they arrived.
As Hailey Rose spent her final days in the hospital, her parents set up a GoFundMe page that said that the baby had suffered a "catastrophic brain injury." The campaign sought funds for medical bills, and then funeral expenses. The page raised $17,618. The company has previously said it will refund the money to donors.
— With previous reporting by Sergio Bichao
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