ALBANY, Ga. -- Rico Demetrius Jones, 24, was arrested Monday for the death of his stepdaughter, Camyria Arnold.
Camyria, 3, was first brought to Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital by Jones, who told doctors she had been acting sluggishly and was breathing heavily. She was eventually sent to the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, where she died at 2:30 p.m. on Dec. 27.
An investigation into the case led to warrants being issued against Jones..
"We hate to have to prosecute people for killing children," said Dougherty District Attorney Greg Edwards. "We are hopeful we can save children's lives."
Prevention of infant deaths by reporting suspicions of child abuse is key, Edwards added.
"We must protect our children," he said. "The character of how the public (reports cases) reflects on the community in general."
In December, police charged Jones with one count of misdemeanor reckless conduct in that he had previously smoked or possessed marijuana in the child's presence, but the reckless conduct charge was not directly connected to the child's death.
According to a report filed with the Albany Police Department, Camyria had bruises on her right thigh and on the left side of her neck as well as red marks on her chest and dilated pupils when she was brought to Phoebe. Police said a doctor at the hospital reportedly told a Department of Family and Childrens Services worker and an APD officer that Camyria's body temperature was 91.6 degrees and that she had a sodium level of 117, which is indicative of possible drowning.
When interviewed by police and DFACS, Camyria's mother said that she was at work when she received a call from Jones saying the toddler was acting sluggishly and was sleepy. To awaken her, Jones said he placed her in the bathtub and cut the shower on cold. He further told the mother, per the report, that he thought Camyria might have ingested something while she was napping.
While being interviewed by investigators, Jones told police that he got Camyria and her sister out of the tub and then fell asleep. When he awoke, he noticed Camyria's breathing was shallow and thought that she might have ingested something, so he attempted to induce vomiting. He told police he then placed her back into the tub and ran cold water from the shower to wake her.
Jones said that she appeared to become more alert, but only temporarily, at which time he decided to take her to the emergency room.