Toano man indicted on murder charge

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

A Toano man has been indicted on murder and child abuse charges in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court in connection to the death of his 3-month-old daughter, according to online court records.

Bryan Timothy Arruda, 28, of Toano, was indicted Sept. 20 by a grand jury on the two charges, online records indicate.

“On or about April 28, 2017, while in the prosecution of the felonious act of abusing his child, the defendant did accidentally kill Emery Arruda,” the grand jury indictment states.

If convicted of the second degree murder charge, Bryan Arruda could face between five and 40 years in prison, according to Virginia law.

Arruda, who has retained Michael Gaten as his attorney, faces an arraignment in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court at 9 a.m. Oct. 6. He is being held without bond at the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail.

James City County police and fire departments responded shortly before 3:30 p.m. April 28 to a home in the 7600 block of Crestview Drive in reference to an injured 3-month-old infant, spokeswoman Stephanie Williams said in a news release.

There, they found the child suffering from injuries that were life-threatening, according to the criminal complaint. The infant was taken first to Sentara Williamsburg Hospital before being transferred by helicopter to VCU Medical Center in Richmond.

The child, identified as Emery Alaine Arruda, died at the hospital at about 7 p.m. April 29, according to the criminal complaint. The child had been kept alive by artificial life support and was unable to breathe on her own or maintain her own body temperature in the hours before her death, the criminal complaint states.

The child’s father, Arruda, was home alone with the child when the incident occurred and told police initially that he had consumed at least two large cans of beer prior to the incident, and later admitted he drank six beers before the incident, according to the criminal complaint.

Arruda told police that his daughter was in an unsecured bouncy chair on top of a coffee table, and that, after he went to the bathroom, he returned to find her on the ground crying.

He told police, according to the criminal complaint, that he tried to feed the child, but she did not eat, and then became unresponsive and was not breathing. At that point, Arruda told police he gave his daughter rescue breaths, the criminal complaint states.

The child was taken to the hospital, where a CT scan showed multiple skull fractures with blood clots forming, and responding medics noticed bruises on the child’s inner thigh, according to the criminal complaint.

VCU child abuse physician Dr. Robin Foster, who is board certified in child abuse pediatrics, pediatric emergency medicine and pediatrics, examined the child April 28, the criminal complaint stated.

“Dr. Foster explained to the investigator that she had found evidence of multiple blunt force trauma injuries with retinal hemorrhaging caused by acceleration/deceleration injuries (shaking),” the criminal complaint states.

Foster said the skull fractures were consistent with a crush of the skull, and that fractures extended across the child’s forehead into the orbital rim, the criminal complaint states, and a severe force caused the injury.

The injuries, according to Foster, were not in “anyway shape or form” consistent with falling from a bouncy chair on top of a coffee table, and said that the injuries would have occurred near the time of the 911 call, the criminal complaint states.

In a second interview with police, Arruda said, again, that the baby had fallen from the bouncy chair onto the floor, the criminal complaint stated.

Bryan Arruda’s wife told investigators that he is unpredictable when drinking alcohol, and police found an odor of alcohol on his breath. Bryan Arruda also told investigators that he did not sleep much the previous night because his daughter was teething and crying throughout the night, according to the criminal complaint.

According to a filing in Williamsburg-James City County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Gaten successfully motioned for Bryan Arruda to be evaluated to determine whether he would be competent to stand trial, and to determine his sanity at the time of the incident, saying that “based on certain factors, significant concern exists.”

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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