BENTON COUNTY, Mo. — A 24-year-old man is accused of killing a 9-month-old baby in Benton County.

Danial J. Fitzgerald, 24, of Sedalia, is charged with three felonies: second-degree murder, abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death and first-degree endangering the welfare of a child.

The charges are based on an incident that occurred on Feb. 7 of 2022. The probable cause requesting charges against Fitzgerald was filed on Oct. 15 of 2022. He was formally charged on Feb. 3 of this year and booked in the Benton County jail on Feb. 21.

According to the police report, the baby was found deceased following a vehicle crash in Cole Camp in Benton County. The other passengers of the vehicle were the baby’s 16-year-old mother and her boyfriend, Fitzgerald.

An autopsy was performed on the baby. The baby’s injuries included cuts on her “head, face, neck, genitalia, and extremities at the time of her death … based on review of the injuries, this child was the victim of violent child physical abuse and abusive anogenital trauma.”

Fitzgerald was interviewed by the Missouri State Highway Patrol later the day of the crash. He told the interview:

“I mean, this is the worst day ever. I totaled my brand-new car. I went to jail. And her.”

-Danial Fitzgerald in a MSHP interview

The MSHP interviewer asked Fitzgerald why people at the crash scene reports that he was more concerned with calling his insurance company than the fact that the baby was not breathing. Fitzgerald said he was screaming for help and that he only got on the phone with the insurance company when a person started “working on” the victim.

The story Fitzgerald told investigators about what happened the morning of the crash and his relationship with the baby had inconsistencies and signs of lies.

The mother said the baby looked like she was dying the morning of the crash and that the baby died while they were taking her to an ambulance. Fitzgerald said at one point that the baby was fine the morning of the crash and at another point said he told the mother something was wrong with the baby.

He also told law enforcement that he had nothing to do with the baby’s care because he did not want to get attached or have the baby think he was her father. Later, he told law enforcement he was going to ask to have the baby’s last name switched to his.

The baby’s grandmother said that the baby’s injuries occurred while Fitzgerald was caring for her, except for a burn mark. The grandmother said the baby spent a lot of time alone with Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald is being held on a $1 million bond at the Benton County jail. His next court appearance is a preliminary hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. on March 20.