Father calls daughter's death an accident

Johnathan Blake Perry (Image courtesy Wake County Sheriff's Office)

December 12, 2010 9:00:00 PM PST
Johnathan Perry's first appearance before a judge Monday was brief - just long enough to appoint an attorney and tell him he would remain in jail without bond.

Perry shook his head as he was lead back to jail.

The 23-year-old Wake Forest man is charged with murder and felony child abuse in the death of his 14-month-old daughter Jadajia Wright.

According to town officials, Wake Forest police and Wake County EMS responded to Perry's North Allen Road home on Tuesday, December 7, after a 911 call.

There, they found Jadajia without a pulse. Perry was the only other person home at the time.

The infant was transported to WakeMed, and then transferred by helicopter to UNC Hospital in Chapel Hill, where she was later pronounced dead.

Perry's mother Annie was in court Monday. She's trying to cope with the death of her granddaughter and the arrest of her son. She said he told her the child's death was an accident.

"That's all it could be - was an accident - her falling off the chair," she said. "He gave her a bottle and laid her on the living room chair. And, he went back to the bathroom - to use the bathroom - and while he was in the bathroom, the phone in the kitchen was ringing. It was the baby's mom. And by the time he got in the kitchen to get the phone, the baby was already on the floor."

Investigators say they don't believe Perry's story.

According to a search warrant, he told them when he picked the girl up he "heard what sounded like her neck snapping".

But the search warrant also quotes a doctor as saying that in addition to brain damage, the girl also had a bruise on her lung and thigh, a possible broken thighbone and a hemorrhage in one eye.

"He picked her up, and she had little shallow, short breaths. And he called 911, and they told him how to perform CPR over the telephone," said Annie Perry.

An autopsy will likely reveal more.

"I'm going to miss her too. I mean, she was in our lives for a short period of time. So we loved her, we really did," said Annie Perry.

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