Middle River man charged in death of 17-month-old

He is accused of shaking his girlfriend's baby

July 31, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

A 20-year-old Middle River man was being held without bail yesterday after being charged with shaking his girlfriend's baby to death while baby-sitting her last week.

Gary Wayne Buehler, already facing a child abuse charge in the same case, was charged with first-degree murder Monday, police said. He was denied bail at a hearing yesterday morning.

His girlfriend's 17-month-old daughter, Ciera Nicole Franz, died Sunday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was flown there Friday after Buehler called 911 to report the child was in cardiac arrest, police said.

The child and her mother, Michele Lee Franz, lived in the 3100 block of Olive Lane with Buehler and his mother, Wanda Buehler, police said.

According to charging documents filed in District Court, Buehler was baby-sitting the infant while her mother worked Friday. Buehler told police that he ran to answer the phone about 1:30 p.m. and accidentally ran into the little girl, who fell backward and hit her head on the kitchen floor.

She was in and out of consciousness for several minutes before Buehler said he called 911, the documents say.

On Saturday, detectives compared notes with doctors who said the baby's injuries were consistent with being shaken. Buehler was then charged with child abuse.

An autopsy was performed Monday and a medical examiner ruled the baby's death a homicide from head trauma, again noting the injuries were likely caused by the girl being shaken, said Cpl. Ron Brooks, a department spokesman.

In a similar case in Anne Arundel County this week, a Pasadena man was arrested and charged with murder in the death of his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter in February. He is also accused of killing the child by shaking her in what prosecutors there are calling an apparent case of "shaken baby syndrome."

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