NORMAL, Ill. (NEXSTAR)— Richard Rountree, the father of 8-year-old girl Rica Rountree who was killed last year, has been arrested.
Police Chief Rick Bleichner with the Normal Police Department said Rountree was arrested Tuesday afternoon “for circumstances surrounding the death of his minor daughter.” Specifically, Rountree has been charged with felonious endangering the life or health of a child under the age of 18 and accused of conduct which makes him eligible for an extended-term sentence.
In November, his former girlfriend Cynthia Baker was found guilty for Rica’s murder. She kicked the girl in the stomach, which led to massive internal injuries that eventually killed her. Additionally, Rica’s autopsy results showed multiple scars, which indicated a months-long span of abuse. Baker was also found guilty of three counts of domestic battery, one count of endangering the life of a child, and one count of aggravated battery.
Baker was scheduled to be sentenced later this month, but it has since been vacated. In December, the McLean County Circuit Clerk’s Office confirmed Baker is seeking a new trial and hired a new attorney. She claimed ineffective assistance of counsel from her lawyer during the murder trial.
Rica’s mother, Anntionetta, previously said she has unanswered questions and wants justice for the child.
“Richard, ’cause I won’t call him her dad, Richard needs to face charges,” Anntionetta said. “[…] I’m seeking full justice.”
During the trial, Richard was interrogated after it was revealed Baker gave him a letter, asking him to “take the blame” for her. The defense was planning to use it if either of the two were to testify. Richard gave the letter to the Normal Police Department.
Prosecutors made their case on text messages Baker and Richard exchanged, complaining back and forth about Rica. But the most graphic evidence in the case included videos from Baker’s cellphone that were played during witness testimony, and again during closing arguments, that depicted abuse and harassment.
Additionally, one of Rountree’s classmates said during the trial Rica told her she was being abused before her death. The young child testified, telling jurors Rica “hated” living with her dad because she always got injured.