A North Texas man beat and killed his 2-year-old daughter because she distracted him from his computer games, police said.
Anthony Michael Sanders, 31, was charged Friday with capital murder in the December death of Ellie Sanders at the family’s suburban Fort Worth home, Watauga police told the Star-Telegram.
Investigators believe an enraged Sanders bruised Ellie all over her body, bit her on her back and murdered her by holding her down with his hand over her face, Watauga police Sgt. Jason Babcock said in an interview with the newspaper.
“He’s very involved in computer gaming…That’s something he did constantly,” Babcock said. “She may have interrupted him somehow. His day may have been interrupted.”
Tarrant County medical examiners ruled earlier this month that Ellie’s Dec. 12 death was a homicide by asphyxiation, and Watauga police arrested April 15, the day after the finding, inmate records show. A judge set his bail at $1 million.
Sanders had been watching Ellie and his 5-year-old son that day while his wife went to an art show, according to an arrest affidavit cited by the newspaper. The boy checked on his little sister in a bedroom of the Fair Meadow Drive house after his mother came home around 8:30 p.m., Babcock said.
“He tried to wake her up and she wouldn’t wake up,” Babcock said. “He went in there and told them that she was sleeping and wouldn’t wake up.”
Sanders shouted for his wife to call 911 after looking at the girl, and staff at North Hills Hospital pronounced her dead later that night. Child Protective Services has placed her brother with a relative.
Detectives suspected foul play because doctors found fresh injuries when they examined Ellie, including so-called “raccoon eyes” bruises around her eyes, blood behind her ear and two adult bite marks on her back, according to the affidavit.
Sanders couldn’t explain her injuries and claimed he had changed Ellie’s diaper about a half hour before his wife came home, according to investigators. He said she “appeared fine and was up watching television in the bedroom laughing.”
Yet “Anthony, by his own admission, was the only adult that was in the residence during the time the injuries were inflicted upon his daughter which caused her death,” a Watauga police detective wrote in the arresting documents.
Police arrested Sanders in 2011 on charges of choking his future wife, but a grand jury declined to indict him at the time, according to records cited by the newspaper.