Daniel Vega is serving a six-year prison term.
He told police the child fell off a bed, but doctors indicated her injuries were not consistent with a fall. A jury acquitted him of the more serious charge of reckless homicide.
Vega appealed his conviction, contending the separate child abuse and reckless homicide incidents should not have been tried together. He argued the evidence of the death was "likely to arouse the jury's instinct to punish him and would provoke the jury's sense of horror and inflame the jury." But the appeals court decision notes that the jury's acquittal on the homicide charge refutes Vega's argument.
"Finally, the State argues that any error in conducting a single trial on these charges was harmless because there is no evidence that the jury became confused about which evidence related to which crime or failed to consider the crimes separately. The State also argues the joinder was harmless because the evidence of Vega's guilt is overwhelming, and any potential prejudice was also presumptively cured by the jury instruction to consider each of the charges separately. Vega does not address the State's harmless error analysis, effectively conceding the issue," the court wrote.