No Death Penalty For Bullhead City Couple Accused of Killing Newborn During "Brutal" Sexual Attack
A story we wrote a few years ago about a Bullhead City couple accused of killing their newborn baby during what's described by authorities as a "brutal" sexual attack has been getting a lot of attention as of late -- and we have no idea why.
Regardless, we figured we'd provide an update on the case.
We spoke to Greg McPhillips this afternoon, the Mohave County prosecutor assigned to the case, who tells us not much has been happening. However, he says he's decided to not seek the death penalty for the two suspects, 20-year-old Staci Lynn Barbosa and 24-year-old Jonathan Edward Vandergriff.
McPhillips says he never sought the death penalty for Barbosa, but had for Vandergriff. However, because of the costs associated with trying a death penalty case -- and the fact that evidence in cases of murdered children is often hotly contested by defense attorneys -- he backed off.
On the morning of June 15, 2010, police were called to Western Arizona Regional Medical Center's Emergency Room where the one-month-old baby was "fighting for his life."
Police say they saw bruises and sores all over the baby's body and his eyes were red and swollen shut.
Doctors then told police the baby had several broken ribs, a broken femur, was malnourished, dehydrated, and showed signs of sexual abuse and shaken baby syndrome.
At the time of the baby's death, Bullhead City Police Department spokeswoman Emily Montague told New Times it appeared the couple "raped" their own baby.
The baby was airlifted to Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas -- the closest hospital with a trauma center, according to Montague.
Barbosa, who brought the one-month-old to the hospital, was immediately taken into custody.
Doctors were not able to save the baby and he died the next morning.
Vandergriff turned himself into authorities a few days later. Police then served a search warrant at the house where the couple had been living, which turned up marijuana and other items of "evidentiary value."
Vandergriff and Barbosa initially were booked into jail on charges of molestation of a child, child abuse, aggravated assault, and sexual conduct with a minor. First-degree murder charges were added after the baby died.
McPhillips says there hasn't been much progress in the case since the couple's arrest -- much thanks to their defense attorney filing numerous motions claiming there was a conflict with several different judges who ended up with the case.
Now, however, there's a new defense attorney, and McPhillips says the case now has some "forward momentum."
Vandergriff is scheduled to appear in court for a status hearing on February 14 -- his first court appearance in about a year.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.