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Man charged in infant's murder 19-year-old told police he punched daughter

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April 20, 2008

Officials said Saturday a 19-year-old Zion man angry that his girlfriend had not given birth to a boy beat his 4-month-old daughter to death when she would not stop crying.

Larnell Mace is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Jasmine Mace and was ordered held on $2 million bond.

Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Scheller said police became involved in the death when Mace flagged down a Zion police patrol car about 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Mace told the officer he was trying to get his daughter to a hospital, Scheller said, and then disregarded the officer's escort to St. Therese Hospital in Waukegan in favor of an acute care center in Zion.

The Zion police officer then took control of Mace's car and drove to the hospital, Scheller said, where the baby was pronounced dead.

An autopsy established the baby had died from blunt force trauma that ruptured her liver and intestines and left bruises on her lungs, spleen and abdomen.

Scheller said the autopsy indicated the injuries were most likely inflicted four to five hours before the baby's death.

Mace told police he had been alone with Jasmine and a 2-year-old boy he was babysitting from 10:30 a.m. that day while the child's mother was at work.

Police have statements from witnesses that Mace had told his girlfriend he was "very upset" she had given birth to a girl rather than a boy, Scheller said.

Mace at first denied he did anything to the infant, Scheller said, and then said the child could have been injured when he left the apartment he shares with the child's mother at 1601 Lorelei Drive about noon to smoke marijuana with a friend.

Mace's story continued to evolve as police went on questioning him, Scheller said.

He told police Jasmine had started crying during the afternoon, so he had fixed her a bottle, Scheller said.

Mace said he became angry when she would not take the bottle and punched her with a closed fist three times in the abdomen.

Jasmine quieted down after the blows and took a pacifier, police said Mace told them, so he laid her on the floor of his bedroom for a nap.

After Mace was told he was going to be charged with first-degree murder, Scheller said Mace again changed his version of events.

In a final, handwritten statement he gave police, Mace said he had punched Jasmine between five and six times because she would not stop crying.

Shortly after the uncle of the 2-year-old boy came to take the child home, Scheller said Mace's statement reads, Jasmine began having difficulty breathing and he decided to seek medical care.

Jasmine had been treated earlier in the week at Condell Medical Center in Libertyville for what Scheller said was a "breathing disorder" that is not believed to be related to her death.

Wearing a long white T-shirt and jeans with Warner Brothers cartoon characters on the back pocket, Mace told Associate Judge Thomas Schippers he wanted time to hire his own attorney.

Schippers gave Mace permission to make some phone calls from the jail and ordered him back to court April 24.

Scheller said Mace is facing the potential of life in prison if convicted of murdering Jasmine because she was younger than 12 at the time of her death.

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