Man charged with murder for death of 15-month-old daughter

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Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Matthew T. Gantt, 42, on Oct. 15 with murder in the second degree and tampering with a witness for the death of his 15-month-old daughter, N.G.

“Parents have a duty to care for and protect their children,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “Our office is committed to protecting our children and holding accountable those who harm the vulnerable.”

On Oct. 6, Lakewood Police arrived at the 15000 block of Silcox Drive Southwest in Lakewood for an agency assist for West Pierce Fire and Rescue. Prior to their arrival, West Pierce Fire and Rescue transported 15-month-old N.G. to Madigan Army Medical Center. According to WPFR, N.G. had obvious signs of abuse and was in cardiac arrest when WPFR transported her to the hospital.

Police spoke with the defendant and his wife, Mary Anderson, at the scene. Police noted that the defendant seemed to speak for both himself and Anderson, and that he was reluctant to be separated from Anderson. They also noted that Anderson’s left arm was in a sling and her left eye was black. While Anderson was speaking with police, the defendant yelled over to her “Don’t talk to them.”

The defendant told an officer that he and Anderson were in their bedroom studying when he heard a “blood curdling scream” from the living room. The defendant said that he and Anderson both got up and that Anderson got to N.G. first. He claimed N.G. was screaming loudly, and her arms were twitching, then she went limp. The defendant claimed N.G. probably fell out of the crib because, he said, it happens all the time.

Anderson reported that N.G. had fallen out of the crib a few times in the past few days, but that there didn’t seem to be any injury and that she had fixed the problem by no longer leaving one of the sides of the crib down. Anderson said that she called to the defendant who came into the living room and began CPR. Anderson called 911.

The doctor from the ER at Madigan reported that N.G. was unresponsive and on life support. She had a skull fracture, brain bleeding, and bruises on her arms, hips, and legs. She was transported to Mary Bridge Hospital where the examining doctor noted that in addition to the severe skull fracture and brain bleeding, N.G. had retinal hemorrhages in both eyes. Further examination also revealed several healing rib fractures. When asked if such injuries could be caused by falling from a crib, the doctor said no, based on his experience. He later indicated that the injuries were consistent with non-accidental trauma.

On Oct. 9, N.G. was pronounced dead. An autopsy was performed and revealed a large occipital skull fracture. The doctor performing the autopsy classified the manner of death as homicide caused by blunt force trauma and said the skull fracture was the largest she had seen in an infant or toddler. She opined that the injuries were indicative of severe abuse.

The defendant was arrested on Oct. 12 and booked into the Pierce County Jail. Bail is set at $5 million. Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

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