A man charged with the murder of his own 3 year-old daughter is on trial this week at La Paz County Superior Court.
Prosecutors say Aaron Freeman, 26, of Blythe, beat his daughter, Autumn Shibley, in several acts of abuse over the course of June 10th, 2017, one which resulted in a perforated stomach, her admission to hospital in Blythe and her death the following day in hospital.
The case is being held in La Paz County because the fatal injury occurred at a tire shop in Ehrenberg, AZ where Freeman worked, according to the state’s case against him.
Surveillance footage reportedly shows him physically abusing Autumn multiple times between 11:16 a.m. and 2:16 p.m. He allegedly dragged her by the hair, threw her food on the ground to eat, splashed water in her face, twisted her arm, kicked her and intentionally caught her hand in the office screen door jamb, pulling the door onto her fingers with both his hands.
Prosecutors reportedly plan to also show the jury video evidence that, at 1:56 p.m., Freeman struck Autumn so hard that she spun around 180 degrees and landed face-first in a tire mounted on a wheel behind her. Autumn can be seen shortly afterwards in the video with what appears to be blood in her hair, according to court documents.
After leaving the tire shop, Freeman allegedly inflicted and recorded more acts of abuse. He brought Autumn to Palo Verde Hospital in Blythe around 7:30 p.m., where she was subsequently transported by ambulance to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital. An autopsy showed that she died from internal bleeding due to a blunt force abdominal injury.
The La Paz County Sheriff’s Department opened up a parallel investigation with the Blythe Police Department. Freeman was arrested in Banning and transported to jail in Parker.
Freeman faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder at the end of his trial, which is scheduled this week and next. His other charges include second-degree murder-extreme indifference and intentional abuse of a child or vulnerable adult.
A plea deal was drafted up in late 2018 in which Freeman would have pled guilty to second-degree murder and child abuse, with a recommended sentence between 20.5 and 30.5 years in prison. But the judge, Matt Newman, rejected it just as Freeman was about to sign it, saying, “From the facts I’ve seen, this is a plea agreement that this particular court would not accept, I have to tell you that. Another judge may feel differently, but that’s how I feel about it.”
An amended plea deal was then rejected by Freeman himself in March, saying he wants a trial.
The child’s mother, Ashly Parrish, who has been a part of each big hearing in Freeman’s case so far, says this is a failure of the family court system. She is suing San Bernardino County Child and Family Services for the role she says they played in granting Freeman custody of Autumn, despite his history of violence. She alleges that two social workers with the county created false reports about her that led to the decision, and that they removed Autumn from her custody in 2016.
Freeman was charged with attacking a man in 2012. He pled guilty to battery, force inflicting injury and disturbing the peace. He also had a restraining order filed against him during a 2016 divorce proceeding in La Paz County.
Freeman’s fate will now rest with the jury, who will hear the case and be asked to reach a verdict. He is being held on $1 million bond.
This article will be updated with the outcome of the trial when we have it.