Dad Who Caused Tot's Death Going to Prison

MURRIETA (CNS) - A Menifee man who caused the death of his 5-week-old daughter is bound for state prison today to serve a six-year sentence.

Gregory Miles Brandt, 34, pleaded guilty Thursday to willful child cruelty in the death of Kailani Alexandra Brandt. In exchange for his admission, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office dropped a murder charge against him.

Brandt's girlfriend, 28-year-old Jasmine Jenae Rugga, also admitted a child abuse charge, and the couple's friend, Matthew Wade Ryan, admitted a misdemeanor allegation of conspiring to destroy evidence.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jorge Hernandez certified the terms of each plea agreement and imposed the stipulated sentences, which for Rugga, was four months in county jail and three years probation, and for Ryan was 150 days in a sheriff's work release program and three years probation.

Brandt and Rugga were arrested last March following a nearly two-month investigation by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

According to Sgt. Wally Clear, on Jan. 26, 2019, Brandt and Rugga brought their daughter into the emergency room of a Temecula-area hospital because the child had stopped breathing. Despite efforts by a trauma team, the baby could not be revived and was pronounced dead a short time later, Clear said.

He said that hospital staff immediately became suspicious that the infant had suffered injuries consistent with abuse, and deputies were notified.

Detectives questioned the defendants and went to their home in the 28000 block of Avenida Marbella, where evidence was gathered, ultimately culminating in charges being filed against the pair and later Ryan, who was involved after the fact.

The exact nature of Kailani's death was not specified.

According to court records, Brandt has a prior conviction for driving under the influence. Neither Rugga nor Ryan had documented prior convictions in Riverside County.

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