CINCINNATI — A father is accused of hitting his 3-month-old daughter in the face with a closed fist "in a fit of frustration" because she would not stop crying, police said.
The baby, Asia Cathey, was pronounced dead early Tuesday, hours after the 9:02 p.m. attack inside the family's apartment.
For now, her father, Shavale Johnson, 24, is held on a $200,000 bond at the Hamilton County jail on a child endangering charge.
That likely will be upgraded to more serious charges that could include murder after coroner's officials determine the infant's cause of death, prosecutors said in court Tuesday when Johnson made a brief appearance.
The infant's death was immediately considered suspicious and remains under investigation, said Sgt. Mike Miller of the Cincinnati Police Department's Homicide Unit.
Johnson admitted to police he punched the baby because she would not stop crying "in a fit of frustration," police wrote in court records.
The baby's mother called 911 about midnight, and the child was taken to the hospital while Johnson, remained behind at the family's Mcfarlan Road residence, said Lt. Tim Brown, the night chief.
Hospital authorities alerted police, who went to the apartment. They talked to Johnson and arrested him at about 2:30 a.m.
Johnson's attorney declined to comment, but his mother and sister defended him.
They said that he has another daughter, 1, who is with her mother somewhere else.
"He doesn't hit his kids. It's a lie," said Caress Johnson, 24, his twin sister. "He doesn't hit his kids. He plays with them."
When told her brother confessed to punching the baby in the face, she responded that he has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
"He has mental problems," she said. "He would say yes to anything."
The infant's mother does not face charges, Miller said.
She could not be reached at her apartment Tuesday, where neighbors say the couple live with four other children.
Steve Wilder, who lives upstairs, said the infant's mother knocked on his door at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, crying, and told him her daughter died.
She told him she was inside the bathroom when the baby was hurt, he said. She didn't tell him Johnson was suspected.
"She said she came out and the baby had blood coming out of her nose and eyes were in the back in her head," Wilder, 48, recalled. "But she didn't say anything about abuse or anything. I told her I would say a prayer for her. I am kind of in shock right now."
The Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services is investigating. Agency spokesman Brian Gregg said he would have more information on the case later Tuesday.
Johnson was arrested in December on an assault charge that was later dismissed.
According to court records, a female acquaintance told Cheviot police he punched her in the face Dec. 3, causing her lip to bleed, at a residence in the 3700 block of Dina Avenue.
He also pleaded no contest to an April 2013 charge of disorderly conduct while intoxicated.
Johnson was accused of urinating on a public sidewalk while yelling obscenities, causing a disturbance, Cincinnati police wrote in a complaint.