Coroner rules Baton Rouge baby’s death a homicide; second-degree murder charge for father 'appropriate,' DA says _lowres

John William Hope, of 1919 Blvd De Province, Apt. 132

The death of a 4-month-old baby who was brought to a hospital Wednesday with life-threatening injuries has been ruled a homicide by East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. Beau Clark.

An autopsy conducted Monday revealed the baby girl, Josephine Hope, died of blunt force injuries of the head and neck, Clark said.

The child’s father, John Hope, could possibly face murder charges in her death, District Attorney Hillar Moore III said Monday. Hope, 28, was booked into Parish Prison on a count of second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

Moore said the decision to charge the father in the baby’s death will be left up to a grand jury.

“I anticipate second-degree murder would be an appropriate charge,” he said. “It’ll be some time before it gets to the grand jury because we have other cases before it.”

The staff at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center contacted police Wednesday morning to report that Hope had brought in Josephine with life-threatening injuries — three skull fractures, multiple rib fractures, face and neck bruising, a bloody mouth and bloodshot eyes, according to police reports.

The baby was in critical condition Friday with no brain activity. She died on Saturday.

Hope and the baby’s mother, Christine Hope, told doctors their daughter had fallen off a changing table, but emergency room staff said the child’s injuries did not align with the parents’ story, the report says.

“Injuries around the (child’s) neck were consistent with someone grabbing the baby by the neck,” the report says.

The father told police he left the baby on a changing table about 8 a.m. Wednesday while going to get a bottle. After he left the room, he heard a crash and walked back in to find Josephine on the floor, he told police.

He told Christine Hope the same story, and the couple took the baby to the hospital.

Hope also told police a knot on the baby’s head was caused earlier that morning when the baby head-butted him, but he had no explanation for the marks around her neck, the report says. Christine Hope said Josephine had no marks on her before going to sleep the night before.