Dad charged with murder in baby's death

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 12:02 PM

Anthony Casanova, 40, was arrested following a preliminary investigation and has been jailed since Friday night, Norton Shores Police Chief Dan Shaw said.

Police said injuries found on the baby were inconsistent with the story Casanova told paramedics.

“He told us he dropped the baby when he let the dog in, and tripped over the dog,” Shaw said.

Casanova was arraigned Monday in Muskegon County District Court on an open murder charge. He demanded a preliminary examination and was denied bond.

A court official said the preliminary examination is at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 16.

Michigan law does not require a prosecutor to choose between first-degree or second-degree murder when issuing a complaint. An open murder charge is a combination of first- and second-degree murder, and a jury may determine the appropriate degree based on the evidence.

“It’s a tragedy,” said Ron Friday, who lives across the street from Casanova, 5687 Davis Road. “It’s awful.”

Although Friday saw all the rescue vehicles before leaving his house on Friday, he did not know his neighbor had been charged with murder.

“I heard that he had fallen and dropped the baby when he fell,” Friday said.

Emergency personnel responded to Casanova's home at about 4 p.m. Friday on a call of a baby being dropped. First-responders found the child not breathing and unresponsive, and performed CPR on him.

The child was taken by ambulance to Hackley Hospital in Muskegon, where he was pronounced dead a short time after arrival.

Shaw said an autopsy revealed internal injuries more significant than what you would expect to see if the child had just been dropped. He said some of the child's injuries could have been from being shaken.

“There’s possibly other assaultive injuries, too,” Shaw said. “Some older-looking injuries or bruising drew firefighters' and paramedics’ attention. They pointed it out to us.”

The baby, Tyler, was under his father’s care while Casanova's girlfriend, who is the child’s mother, was at work, Shaw said.

Casanova is in the process of being divorced, Shaw said, and his soon-to-be ex-wife has custody of their two children. Child Protective Services is conducting an investigation on behalf of those children, the chief said.

Friday said the incident surprised him.

“He’s a very nice man,” Friday said of his neighbor. “He’d come over all the time and help keep the driveway clean.”

Police are continuing to investigate the child’s death.

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