Man to be tried in girl’s brain injury | NevadaAppeal.com
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Man to be tried in girl’s brain injury

by F.T. Norton
ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com

While a 3-year-old Carson City girl is in a longterm care facility with permanent brain injury, the man accused of putting her there was bound over on a charge of child abuse Friday.

Following testimony Friday from the emergency room physician, ER nurses, the child’s mother, and friends, Senior Judge Edward Dannan found there was enough evidence to try Justin Carrigan, 27, on one count of child abuse with substantial bodily harm. He stands accused of harming Rochelle Ellis, 3, while Rochelle’s mother, Carrigan’s wife Leah Carrigan, was at the emergency room with food poisoning.

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 when he noticed she wasn’t breathing, the report states.

Renown Regional Medical Center ER Physician Edwin Peters testified Friday that Rochelle’s “brain was devastated.”

“Is it possible that she could have a full recovery,” asked Carrigan’s defense attorney Ben Walker who suggested on cross examination that the girl could have suffered a seizure or had a heart arrhythmia that caused her heart to stop, depriving oxygen to her brain for up to 17 minutes.

“I think that would be a miracle and I couldn’t explain it medically,” said Peters.

Carrigan is being held on $50,000 bail. He’ll be arraigned in District Court on Dec. 27. He faces two to 20 years in prison if convicted.