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Richmond man defends son, who is charged with murder in infant's death

RICHMOND — The father of a man charged with murder in the death of his 3-month-old daughter says it was an accident.

"If I thought he had done something intentionally to hurt that child, it would break my heart," said Paul Farthing Sr., 52, of Richmond. "I've lost a grandchild, and now I'm looking at losing my son in prison."

Paul Farthing Jr., 30, was arrested Wednesday, the same day that his daughter, Rylee Jean Campbell, died at University of Kentucky Hospital, Kentucky State Police said.

The infant was taken to the hospital Sunday night after state police, responding to a report that Rylee had been assaulted by her father, were called to Meadowlark Drive in Richmond. The younger Farthing had been staying there with his brother and girlfriend, his father said.

The senior Farthing, a former Madison County deputy sheriff, said his son told him the death was an accident.

"Paul told me he decided the child needed a bath," Farthing said. "He put her up in the kitchen sink ... and was giving her a bath. He picked the child up and the child was wet, and she slipped out of his hands and went back down in the water. I guess her face went forward and she kinda bumped her head a little bit on the faucet, put a little mark on her head.

"But in the meantime she sucked water in her mouth, and he thought she was choked. I guess he shook her a little bit, to make sure she was breathing or make sure she was OK. I guess in his panicked state, he shook her too hard."

"The thing that makes it look so bad on Paul is he didn't tell that right upfront because he was scared," Paul Farthing Sr. said. "He said, 'Daddy, I was scared. I didn't mean to hurt my baby.' Paul is a loving father."

Paul Farthing Jr. has done house painting and odd jobs, but he did not have a full-time job at the time of Rylee's death.

Rylee's mother, Ashley Campbell, works in a restaurant, and she had gone to work Sunday, Paul Farthing Sr. said. The couple had lived together about four years, and this was their first child together, he said.

Paul Farthing Jr. also has a 4-year-old daughter who is in the custody of Farthing's mother, who is divorced from his father.

Farthing remains in the Madison County jail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Friday morning by video from the jail. He declined a request for an interview Thursday.

Madison County court records show that Paul Farthing Jr. pleaded guilty to alcohol intoxication in 2002, driving under the influence in 2003, and theft and alcohol intoxication in 2004.

A district court judge issued a domestic violence order against Farthing in 2006 and told him to have no contact with Anna Farthing. Their divorce was final in December 2007, two years after they married, according to court records.

Farthing also was found to be in arrears three times on child support for the daughter he had with Anna Farthing, court records indicate. The last time was in 2009, when he was found to be $1,510 in arrears.

The senior Farthing conceded that his son was not without blemish.

"Paul had his problems, I'll be the first to say that," Farthing Sr. said. But his hope is that his son didn't kill his daughter.

"This is a nightmare," said Paul Farthing Sr., who has seven surviving grandchildren. "I go to sleep and wake up and think this stuff will be over. It's sad. I don't uphold somebody mistreating a child. ... I'm just hoping people understand Paul is not a vicious baby killer."

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