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story.lead_photo.caption James Tomassini - Photo by Pulaski County sheriff's office

James Menelao Tomassini, a Little Rock father accused of inflicting fatal injuries on his infant daughter, has been released on $20,000 bond after persuading a Pulaski County circuit judge to reduce his bail from $100,000.

The 24-year-old man spent seven weeks in jail before being released June 5. Tomassini did not testify at his bond hearing earlier that day, but defense attorney Pam Panasuik told Judge Leon Johnson that Tomassini is no flight risk.

Tomassini is charged with manslaughter over accusations that 5-month-old Milah Tomassini's death on May 4, 2017, was the result of child abuse. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

He has no previous felonies, has worked continuously since high school and has lived most of his life in the Little Rock area, where most of his family resides, Panasuik told the judge. Her client also supports a second child, a 4-year-old daughter, Panasuik said.

Tomassini has been completely cooperative with investigators, the attorney noted, submitting to interviews and searches. Tomassini could have fled at any time during the 10½-month police investigation that led up to his April 16 arrest, she said.

"There's been nothing presented to this court today suggesting he's a flight risk," she said. "If my client was going to go anywhere, he would have been gone already."

Deputy prosecutor Jeanna Sherrill asked the judge to subject Tomassini to substantial bail to make sure he appears in court. Tomassini is scheduled to stand trial in October.

Milah Tomassini died four days after James Tomassini called an ambulance to the North Little Rock home of the baby's mother where he had been watching the infant while the woman was out of town, detective Joe Green testified.

Tomassini told authorities that he'd been up late smoking marijuana with his wife's brother the night before and that he woke up to the girl crying shortly before 10 a.m. on April 30, 2017, Green said.

Tomassini said he bounced his daughter on his knee to soothe her, and she started calming down. To further calm her, Tomassini said he put her on his shoulder and she quieted down further, apparently passed out, Green told the judge.

Tomassini tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation to revive her, although he had no formal training in the technique, and called an ambulance, the detective said. The subsequent police investigation discovered that Tomassini had waited about 40 minutes before calling 911, Green said.

The baby was born prematurely in November 2016 and spent her first three months in the hospital before being released in March 2017, the detective testified.

She was taken back to the hospital in April, about seven weeks after being discharged, for treatment of a bruise over her left eye, which Tomassini said was caused by her falling off the bed, Green told the judge. Eleven days later she was back at the hospital with fatal injuries, the detective said.

Complications related to her premature birth had caused brain bleeding and swelling, he said. But doctors told police that those injuries could be clearly distinguished from fresher ones, which included more brain bleeding and healing rib fractures, the detective testified.

Milah also had bruising over her body, and doctors found that she had a "corner fracture" on one shoulder, he said.

Green said her autopsy found signs of chronic abuse, including a whiplash-like injury to her neck.

Tomassini's father, 57-year-old John Victor Tomassini, told the judge that his son would be living with him when he is released from jail.

The senior Tomassini is a former Greenbrier dentist who lost his license for molesting three patients in 1994 after they had been sedated by nitrous oxide gas he had administered to treat them. He pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree sexual abuse in June 1995 in exchange for 10 years on probation. He had been the town's only dentist.

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Metro on 06/13/2018

Print Headline: Father of dead baby free on bond

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