- Associated Press - Sunday, February 9, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A 19-year-old man remain jailed Sunday after Albuquerque police said he beat and raped his girlfriend’s 4-month-old daughter.

Authorities arrested Elijah Fernandez on charges of child abuse resulting in great bodily harm and aggravated criminal sexual penetration.

Meanwhile, police say the infant was hospitalized with brain damage and is on life support.

Police responded to reports of an injured baby at an apartment late Friday night, according to a criminal complaint.

Police found the severely injured infant and questioned Fernandez as well as the girl’s mother, grandmother and the grandmother’s boyfriend.

The boyfriend of the grandmother told police that Fernandez came to him for help, saying the baby wasn’t breathing. He told investigators the baby had bruises and red marks on her face. The victim’s grandmother said she noticed bruises two days before the baby’s mother said they were caused by the bed the girl slept in.

Fernandez admitted to hitting the baby in the face because he was stressed about not having money and angered by her crying, police said. In the complaint, investigators said they suspected Fernandez was likely under the influence of the drug Spice, a synthetic form of marijuana, when he abused the girl.

The mother could face charges, but it’s not yet determined if anyone else would, authorities said.

Doctors told police they previously sent referrals several times about the infant and her 2-year-old sister to the state Children Youth and Families Department.

In a statement, department called the incident “an absolute tragedy” but said it had never received any allegations or referrals relating to physical or sexual abuse of both girls. One referral involved low levels of THC, a chemical usually found in marijuana, in the baby’s system, the agency said. Another referral involved prescription medication the mother got that affected breastfeeding. A third referral was about a canceled doctor’s appointment for the baby.

Children Youth and Families Department spokesman Henry Varela told The Albuquerque Journal that no staff member ever interacted with Fernandez or was told he was a caregiver.

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