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Court upholds killer dad's life sentence for shaking, slamming infant's head

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A man killed his 2-month-old daughter by shaking her and slamming her head against a hard surface inside their home in Cobb County.

Orlando Ricardo Dyer was sentence to life in prison for killing Azyani in 2008, but attempted to gain his freedom through a new trial by claiming insufficient evidence and poor attorney representation, according to federal prosecutors. But on Monday, the Supreme Court of Georgia rejected his claims and upheld his sentence.

The following details about the case were obtained from federal court documents:

Dyer, 22, lived with his wife, Laurievett Calvo-Dyer, in an apartment in Austell with their two children, a 1-year-old boy and 2-month-old Azyani.

On Nov. 13, 2008, Calvo-Dyer had left for work, her second day back after two months of recuperating from Azyani’s birth. It was also the second time she left her husband alone to care for the children. The babies were sleeping and Dyer’s brother was asleep in the living room when she left.

But five hours later at 11:30 a.m., Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services arrived at Dyer’s apartment complex after his brother called to report that the baby was unresponsive. He had called for help after he saw blood and foam coming from Azyani's mouth.

While the emergency responders were driving around looking for Dyer’s apartment, Dyer pulled up in a car in front of them, forcing them to stop. He exited, reached into the back seat, and pulled out the unresponsive baby girl who had blood trickling from her nose.

Because of a language barrier, Dyer could not tell the responders what had happened. Still, witnesses said he seemed to show no emotion as emergency technicians tried to resuscitate the infant.

Dyer told officials at Wellstar Cobb Hospital that the baby had not fallen or suffered any head injuries. The nurse observed that the father showed “no emotion of what was going on with the baby.”

After tests revealed bleeding next to the baby’s brain and two skull fractures, she was transferred to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she was pronounced dead at 9 p.m.

During an interview at the police station, Dyer’s story changed. He claimed that while carrying the infant after her bath, he had slipped on a toy ball, fell to his knees and that the baby “flew out of his arms,” slamming into a closet and hitting her shoulder and head. He said that shortly after, he noticed blood and foam coming from her mouth.

The Cobb County Medical Examiner concluded that the baby girl died from blunt force trauma to her head and torso, and the injuries were not consistent with an accident. Rather, it appeared that her head had been struck against a flat, hard surface. The bleeding behind Azyani’s eyes was recent and associated with Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Azyani’s ribs had also been fractured in multiple places. Some of the fractures were recent, while others were two weeks old or older. The medical examiner also found hemorrhaging in Azyani’s upper neck, consistent with the baby being held firmly by her neck or shaken.

In January 2011, a jury convicted Dyer of felony murder while in the commission of aggravated battery, felony murder while in the commission of cruelty to children in the first degree, and other crimes.