Richmond Couple Pleads Not Guilty in Infant Daughter’s Death

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RICHMOND, Mo. -- A Missouri couple has pleaded not guilty to abuse charges stemming from the death of their infant daughter last August.

Rebecca A. Matthews, 24, and husband Dennis J. Matthews, 25, were both charged last week with abuse of a child resulting in a death in connection to the death of their 3-week-old daughter Aphril Diane Berniece Matthews in August.

The couple pleaded not guilty to the charges in a Ray County courtroom on Tuesday.

Police say that the girl was found dead in her crib on Aug. 18. According to court documents, the child -- born three weeks premature -- suffered a number of injuries, including broken ribs. The cause of death was ruled to be blunt force trauma to the chest.

The couple denied injuring the child, claiming that the infant was accidentally crushed by their four-year-old child, who they say may have fell on the baby when the child climbed into the crib. Denis Matthews also told investigators besides the four-year-old child, there was also a two-year-old child in the home that may have removed the baby from her bassinet, causing the injuries to her ribs.

Both parents acknowledged the baby was having trouble breathing. Rebecca Matthews told investigators she watched her husband try and pop the baby's ribs back into place. Rebecca said when she took the baby to the doctor's, she didn't mention the injuries to her ribs because she feared the children would be taken away.

After the doctor's visit revealed nothing abnormal, Rebecca said her husband said, "We're in the clear."

The couple is scheduled to return to court on November 13th.

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