DETROIT (WWJ) – All charges have been dropped against a young Detroit man who was accused of sexually assaulting and killing his infant daughter.

James Saltmarshall, 22, was charged in April with murder, first degree child abuse and first degree criminal sexual conduct following the 8-month-old girl’s death at an Inkster hotel.

According to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, based upon a June 16 report from the Wayne County Medical Examiner, it was determined that the child’s cause of death was asphyxia and the manner of death was determined to be an accident.

Saltmarshall, who’d been jailed on a $2 million bond, was then released on a GPS tether.

After an extensive investigation, including further forensic testing, it was determined that the baby had slept in an adult-sized bed beside her father. He accidentally rolled over onto her in his sleep, waking to find her unresponsive, and immediately dialed 911 for help.

Prosecutors say “in the best interests of justice” they moved to have the case dismissed. The motion was granted Thursday by 22nd District Court Judge Sabrina Johnson.

Although Saltmarshall is no longer facing charges, this tragic case is yet another reminder of the dangers of co-sleeping.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, approximately 3,500 infants die in the U.S. each year from sleep-related deaths, including sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and accidental suffocation. That number initially decreased in the 1990s after a national safe sleep campaign, but has plateaued in recent years.

AAP recommendations on creating a safe sleep environment for infants include:

  • Place baby on his or her back on a firm sleep surface such as a crib or bassinet with a tight-fitting sheet.
  • Avoid use of soft bedding, including crib bumpers, blankets, pillows and toys. The crib should be bare.
  • Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort.
  • Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa or armchair.
  • Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months. Room-sharing decreases the risk of SIDS by as much as 50 percent.

Learn more about safe sleeping from the AAP at this link.


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