2016-11-30 / Front Page

Dad Pleads Not Guilty In Infant ‘Ritual’ Slay

By Liz Goff

The father accused of killing his 5-month-old daughter in a spiritual ritual told investigators he put the little girl face down in her crib on July 29, and found her cold, lifeless body the next morning.
Jorge Baque, 36, was arrested on November 22 at the family home on Greenpoint Avenue and charged in the bludgeoning death of his infant daughter, Alaia. Baque, who immigrated to the US from Ecuador, refused to speak with police following his arrest, a police source said.
Alaia Baque was declared dead at Elmhurst Hospital Center on July 30. An autopsy performed by the city medical examiner revealed the baby suffered bruising to the back of her head and at least eight skull fractures – injuries that are consistent with her being stomped or struck with a blunt object. Test results also showed hemorrhaging in one of the baby’s eyes, suggesting she had been shaken several days earlier.
When the baby’s parents were detained for questioning by police, Jorge Baque immediately asked for a lawyer and her mother, Yesenia Sasso, denied ever hitting the tiny girl. Alaia’s older brother was taken into custody by the city Administration for Children’s Services following her death.
Sasso told detectives Alaia “felt hot,” and she was vomiting on July 27. Both parents said they believed Alaia had the “evil eye,” because she was always in distress and crying, a law enforcement source said. “They told the detectives they tested the baby, rolled an egg in its shell or her skin, opened it and believed the yolk was ‘bad.’ That’s when they decided the baby needed special help.”
Sasso told detectives she and Alaia’s grandmother brought her to a “priestess” in Elmhurst, who swaddled and massaged the infant and rolled her on the ground to remove the evil eye.
Baque pleaded not guilty at his arraignment at Queens Criminal Court, where he was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree assault and endangering the welfare of a child, and was held without bail.
Baque claims he found Alaia cold, blue and unconscious in her crib on the morning of July 30, court papers state.
Yesenia Sasso told police she awoke at about 2 am on the morning of July 30, to the sound of her daughter crying. The mom told police she found her husband in the living room, holding the baby with her face pressed against his chest, court papers state. Sasso said she told Baque not to cover the baby’s nose and mouth and returned to bed. Investigators said Baque was the only one with the baby when she suffered the massive injuries that caused her death.
“Instead of comforting and soothing her as she cried, the defendant is accused of causing severe head injury, bleeding on her brain and severe hemorrhaging in the back of her eyes,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. “This didn’t have to happen, and shouldn’t have happened.”
Sasso left Baque after Alaia’s death, a police source said. “She apparently packed up, left him and hasn’t spoken with him since.”
Sasso was not present in court at the time of Baque’s arraignment.

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