Stepdad charged in 3-year-old girl's brain injury

Justin Carrigan

Justin Carrigan

  • Discuss Comment, Blog about
  • Print Friendly and PDF

The stepfather of a 3-year-old Carson City girl who suffered traumatic brain injury from lack of oxygen was jailed Monday, charged in connection with his stepdaughter's injuries.

Justin Carrigan, 27, was arrested on suspicion of felony child abuse with substantial bodily harm at

1:40 p.m. Monday at the Division of Child and Family Services where he had gone to speak with a caseworker about injuries sustained by Rochelle Ellis, 3, the daughter of Carrigan's wife.

According to court documents, paramedics were called to the Carrigan home in the 200 block of East Long Street on Sept. 27 on a report of a child not breathing.

When rescuers arrived, the girl had no pulse. While paramedics were able to get her heart started again, "the outcome did not look good," the report states.

Justin Carrigan was home alone with Rochelle and his 1-year-old son at the time, according to the report.

He allegedly told police that around 9 a.m. he heard a thud as Rochelle was playing with her toys in her bedroom.

When he went to check on her, the child was sitting on the floor, "moved a little bit," then fell forward unconscious. Carrigan said he immediately performed CPR on Rochelle and called 911.

Upon further investigation, however, police believe Carrigan lied about what happened. Witnesses reported Carrigan didn't call 911 until after he ran from the apartment to a neighbor who didn't have a phone. According to the report, the neighbor followed him back to his apartment and told Carrigan several times to call 911 before he finally did. Police estimate the girl was not breathing for several minutes before paramedics were able to revive her.

He also allegedly changed his story several times. In one scenario, Rochelle is in her bedroom, in another she passes out in the bathroom, and in a third she was lying across his lap on the couch while he stroked her hair when he noticed she wasn't breathing, the report states.

The girl's prognosis is poor, the report states.

"(Doctors) do not expect a full recovery, nor do they expect any 'quality of life' for Rochelle," the report states. "She will most likely remain in a facility with 24-hour care. She may never hear, see or feed herself. She may never recognize her mom or anyone else close to her ... The inside of her brain has been severely affected or died from lack of oxygen."

Rochelle remains in the hospital on a ventilator, according to the report. The couple's 1-year-old son is in foster care.

Carrigan's bail is set at $10,000. A preliminary hearing is set for Nov. 30.

Carrigan's biological daughter with another woman was the victim of child abuse at the hands of her mother's boyfriend in 2007. Tracy Becker, 29, was sentenced in August 2007 to 18 to 60 months in prison, and was released in December 2009.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment