Child rape and murder charges filed against a Michigan man have been dropped after the medical examiner concluded that initial tests were incorrect.
James Saltmarshall, 22, was accused in April of raping and killing his 8-month-old daughter inside a hotel room in the city of Inskter.
He called 911 himself and told dispatchers the infant stopped breathing. He was soon arrested and held on a $2 million bond while medical examiners reported the infant was sexually assaulted and suffered a cracked skull as the result of shaken baby syndrome.
The Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office on June 12 reported that Saltmarshall’s daughter, Janiyah, was not raped and murdered, but died of asphyxia. She was next to him in the hotel bed when he rolled over onto her in his sleep. When he awoke, he found the child unresponsive, court officials said Thursday, June 29. The death has been ruled accidental.
Saltmarshall’s lawyer, Lillian Diallo, told reporters the ordeal has been a horror story for her client, one that began when he learned of Janiyah’s death when charges against him were read during an initial court appearance. He claims a medical examiner told his lawyer after his arrest that his daughter did not suffer any trauma.
He was equally emotional when prosecutors motioned the court to drop all charges and District Court Judge Sabrina Johnson granted the state’s motion to dismiss the case.
“He was torn up,” Diallo said. “He said all along he didn’t do it.”
Saltmarshall was locked up during the baby’s funeral and as of Thursday, he did not know where she was buried, the attorney said. Diallo called the charges against her client salacious, and that Saltmarshall’s reputation has been forever damaged. She said Saltwater will always be known as child rapist and murderer, and he is considering a civil complaint.
Police say Saltmarshall made a series of inconsistent statements. He reportedly denied that the baby fell, but later told officers she slipped off the bed and hit her head. Police say he shook Janiyah to wake her after he found her unresponsive. He denied sexually assaulting her and said that if his daughter had been raped, an intruder may have broken in and committed the assault.
Saltmarshall was staying in the hotel with his daughter and her mother, who left for work before Janiyah died.
[Featured Image by Spencer Weiner/AP Images]