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Father charged in Vt. baby's death

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Associated Press / March 27, 2008

BRATTLEBORO - Six months after his infant daughter's sudden death, a man who initially said that she choked on formula told police, "I must have lost my cool and shook her," and was charged with murder.

James W. Petrin, 21, of Brattleboro, pleaded not guilty yesterday to second-degree murder in the death of 8-week-old Trisha Joy Petrin. He was ordered held on $50,000 bail.

On Aug. 29, police were called to Petrin's apartment, where they found the infant not breathing. She was revived and taken to a local hospital before being transferred to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., where she died Sept. 2.

An autopsy by the N.H. state medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Andrew, concluded that the girl died from blunt force trauma to the head and ruled it a homicide.

Petrin, who had been alone caring for her, initially said he was feeding her when she began to choke and then vomited and went limp. Andrew said that was unlikely, given the baby's injuries.

"Given the extent of these injuries, the proffered history of a spontaneous choking episode followed by attempts to revive the infant are wholly implausible," he said, according to a supplemental affidavit filed by police Detective Michael Carrier.

On Tuesday, when police questioned him again, Petrin said he had been frustrated when the baby would not stop crying, even after he fed, changed, and held her, according to the initial affidavit filed by Carrier. "I must have lost my cool and shook her," he said at one point, according to the affidavit. "I lost my temper.

Later, he admitted shaking her twice and dropping her onto a bed, according to Carrier.

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