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Montana man facing homicide charges in death of infant

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Posted at 8:24 PM, Oct 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-11 10:54:35-04

A Billings man is facing charges of negligent homicide for the death of an infant nearly a year ago.

James Maurice Palmer, 29, was arrested Wednesday and made his first appearance in Yellowstone County Justice Court Thursday. He is being held on $200,000 bail.

On Oct. 31, 2018, Palmer was at home with the girl, who was less than a year old, when the girl's mother called authorities saying she was unresponsive, according to court documents.

Palmer told police he had put the child down for a nap in the morning, then gave her a bottle two hours later. He then went to check on her after a few hours and found her on her stomach, under a blanket and grey in color. He attempted to resuscitate her but was not successful.

She was taken to St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings, where she was pronounced dead that same day.

After performing an examination after the death, doctors discovered bruises on the right side of her chin and on her gums. A toxicology exam showed evidence of methamphetamine and amphetamines in her blood.

Doctors said it was unlikely the infant could independently move herself face down under the blanket, or hold a blanket on her own.

The cause of death was ruled as asphyxia. Her death was classified as homicide.

It was not immediately clear why prosecutors waited nearly a year to file charges in her death.