Father held without bail in death

By George Chappell,
Posted Oct. 07, 2008, at 10 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Robert E. Harford Jr., 24, of Rockland was ordered Tuesday to be held in the Knox County Jail without bail after his arraignment on a charge of knowing and depraved indifference, murder and manslaughter in the death of his 9-week-old daughter, Ava Harford, on Aug. 17.

He was found to have engaged in conduct that manifested a depraved indifference to the value of human life, which caused her death, the Oct. 3 indictment indicated.

Harford wept as he stood in the Knox County Superior Courtroom next to his family-appointed attorney, Steven Peterson, who entered a plea of not guilty for his client to Justice Joyce Wheeler. No trial date was set.

Assistant Attorney General Leane Zainea, the prosecutor, said Harford’s bail at his initial court appearance Aug. 22 had been set at $50,000 cash or $200,000 surety, but Harford did not raise the bail.

Peterson said a bail hearing would be held within five business days in either Rockland or Belfast.

During the police investigation before his arrest, Harford said he dropped the child on her head after picking her up from a couch. His daughter was at waist level when he dropped her on the carpeted floor, according to the affidavit.

He told police that he called his girlfriend, the child’s mother, Kirby Gushee, 25, who told him to call 911.

The ambulance arrived Sunday evening, Aug. 17, and took Ava Harford to Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport for evaluation. She then was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she died Tuesday night, Aug. 19.

Detective Jeffrey Love of the Maine State Police attended Ava’s autopsy at 10 a.m. Wednesday, according to a Bangor Daily News story. Chief medical examiner Dr. Margaret Greenwald, who conducted the autopsy, said Ava Harford died from blunt-force trauma to the head, Love reported.

Harford later reportedly told police he had become frustrated with his daughter and had thrown her to the floor.

Ava Harford’s death was the 25th homicide in Maine in 2008. Sixteen of the homicides were related to domestic violence, according to a BDN report.

gchappell@bangordailynews.net

236-4598

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/10/07/news/father-held-without-bail-in-death/ printed on September 20, 2014