Rockland man denied bail in daughter’s death

By George Chappell,
Posted Oct. 07, 2008, at 2:29 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine – Robert E. Harford Jr., 24, of Rockland was ordered to be held in the Knox County Jail without bail after his arraignment Tuesday.

Harford was arraigned in Knox County Superior Court on charges 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, according to the indictment.

Harford wept as he stood in the courtroom next to his lawyer, family-appointed attorney Steven Peterson, who entered a not guilty plea 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. He did not raise the bail.

During the police investigation prior to 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 and took Ava Harford to Pen 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 an earlier Bangor Daily News story. Chief medical examiner Dr. Margaret Greenwald, who conducted the autopsy, said Ava Harford had died from blunt-force trauma to the head, Love reported.

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

Ava Harford’s death was the 25th homicide in Maine as of Aug. 17, 2008. That’s the most homicides in the state since 1999 when there were 25 for the entire year, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety. Sixteen of this year’s homicides were related to domestic violence.

http://bangordailynews.com/2008/10/07/news/rockland-man-denied-bail-in-daughters-death/ printed on December 21, 2014