Father Charged With Murder, Sex Abuse of Infant Girl

A Southern California man was charged Tuesday with sexually abusing and killing his 19-day-old daughter, whose body was found in the cab of a pickup truck, prosecutors said.

Matthew Brendan Warner, 30, showed no emotion during a court hearing where he was charged with one count each of murder, assault on a child causing death, torture, oral copulation or sexual penetration with a child 10 years or younger and aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Outside court, grandmothers on both sides of the baby's family had differing versions of Warner.

"No! It's not even conceivable. Not him," said Victoria Law-Thomson, Warner's mother.

Nan Allison, Warner's mother-in-law, is furious.

"The idea that a 3-week-old child should have to worry about defending herself against her 30-year-old father is abhorrent to me," she said.

Last Friday, Warner and his wife reported that their infant daughter, Ellorah Rose Warner, had disappeared from their home in Newhall. About 12 hours later, deputies announced they'd arrested him after he led them to her body inside a parked pickup truck.

"He made a choice ... to get high," Allison said.

Allison said Warner was on probation for drug charges, jobless and a danger to his baby. She said she's known it for years.

"He gave the appearance of adoring that child," she said. "It was not genuine."

Law-Thomson thought her son, who used speed, was clean and sober.

"That's why I don't understand this," she said.

Warren's family attended a vigil held in memory of the little girl on Tuesday night, and they again said they do not believe he is guilty. 

"He loved his little girl, adored her, and I don't believe what I'm hearing. It's just rumors," his mother Victoria Law-Thomson said, "I just don't want this viciousness to continue. Just people back off let the courts do what they're supposed to do and not the public opinion."

"He really is a good brother, and we never had any, like, arguments or anything really. We would just have…  good talks," his sister Marjorie Law said, "We were just talking about her, Ellorah, and I was saying how I didn't get a chance to see her yet.... mom’s like, ‘oh we've got to fix that.’  And then the next morning… we heard she's missing."

Meanwhile, a friend of the mother named April Gunckel said she was seeking solace from her family.

"Anybody whose going through such a loss is really going to do the best they can… (to) be with friends and family right now," Gunckel said

Warner's mother holds out hope that the baby may have died as the result of an accident or sudden infant death syndrome.

Results of an autopsy are under seal. After the sexual assault charges were included, Judge David Walgren increased bail to more than $2 million.

His arraignment was set for Feb. 18.

Warner faces a maximum penalty of life in state prison if convicted of all charges.

Michael Larkin and Beverly White contributed to this article

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