Suspended officer, wife indicated in death of daughter

EWING, N.J. (AP) — A suspended New Jersey police officer and his wife have been indicted by a grand jury in the death of their 3-month-old daughter last year, authorities said.

The Mercer County prosecutor's office said Friday that Daniel Bannister, 31, was indicated on a charge of first-degree murder while his 29-year-old wife, Catherine, was indicted on a count of second-degree reckless manslaughter.

Both were earlier charged with child endangerment after emergency responders found 3-month-old Hailey not breathing and in cardiac arrest in December at their Ewing Township home. Medical personnel said she had a fractured skull and ribs and died six days later. Prosecutors allege that the injuries "indicated an ongoing pattern of abuse."

Lawyers for the couple have maintained their innocence and said others could be responsible for the child's injuries.

Authorities allege that the woman confronted her husband in an Oct. 4 text about bruising around the mouth of the child, who was then just over a month old. Days later, authorities allege, she texted a friend who worked as a pediatric nurse about his alleged behavior but asked her not to report it. Authorities said in the charging document that she said she had told him he was "abusive" and couldn't touch the child again unless he took a class on early childhood development. The friend urged her to get away from her husband and offered her and the children a place to stay, authorities said.

Authorities also allege that on Nov. 1 she took a photo of bruising on the child's ribs and sent it to her husband while at a doctor's appointment, texting "Hopefully doctor won't see."

Daniel Bannister, who remains jailed, was suspended without pay from his job after his arrest. His wife taught kindergarten, but the school board voted in May against renewing her contract, reported.