Fayette County

Trial begins for couple accused of killing infant

Prosecutors say a Lexington couple is responsible for abusing and killing the woman's infant daughter four years ago.

But a defense attorney for the woman's boyfriend says the child's injuries happened before his client had started to care for the child.

Opening statements began Monday in the trial of Roy Rankin and Samantha Monahan. Rankin is charged with murder and criminal abuse in the death of 6-month-old Cecilia Alvarado, Monahan's daughter, on Aug. 22, 2005. Monahan is charged with criminal abuse.

Rankin and Monahan originally told police that Monahan's son, Miguel Alvarado, who was 2 at the time of Cecilia's death, might have been responsible for his sister's fatal injuries.

Rankin was watching Cecilia and Miguel when he found Miguel straddling Cecilia's chest, Rankin told police. Cecilia died from severe blunt force trauma to the brain, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Shawna Virgin said Monday. The infant also had multiple fractures in her arms and legs.

Cecilia's autopsy also revealed that she had sustained "repeated contact with some hard, flat surface," Virgin said.

Defense attorney Scott West said there is not enough information available to determine how Cecilia's bones were broken. He also said some of the fractures were three to four months old and could have happened before Monahan moved in with Rankin in July.

"The criminal abuse, if it is criminal abuse, did not happen on Roy's watch," West said.

West also said Rankin is "mildly mentally retarded" and might not have been able to identify potential signs of abuse. Rankin attempted to perform CPR on Cecilia, although he wasn't trained to perform it and could have injured her, West said.

"He is not someone who should be alone with a child like this because he doesn't react well to stressors," West said.

The trial is expected to last through next week.