Thursday, August 5, 1999

Murder suspect says infant
‘threw’ herself out of his grip

By Debra Barayuga


A Waipahu man charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 4-month-old daughter told police that the infant fell as he was holding her and attempting to make her a bottle.

But a Kapiolani Hospital doctor who treated Tori Bentosino determined the infant appeared to have been "shaken and battered" and that her injuries were inconsistent with the father's explanation, court documents say.

Michael Bentosino is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear for an evidentiary hearing Monday in District Court.

Child Protective Services called police Friday after being notified of the child's injuries by Kapiolani Hospital emergency room staff.

In the court documents, Dr. Cynthia Tinsley said that in addition to a skull fracture, the infant suffered bleeding in the brain and both eyes and an old wrist fracture.

Bentosino told police that he was playing with the infant Friday and put her on a baby bouncer until she fell asleep. When she began crying, he decided to make her a bottle since the baby's mother, Nanette Arigo, was in the shower.

He was holding the infant over his left shoulder with one hand and making a bottle with the other hand when Tori "threw" herself backward and slipped out of his arms. The baby's head struck a ceramic counter and fell to the floor, he told police.

It happened so fast that he was unable to break her fall, he said.

The baby stopped crying after 15 to 20 minutes, and her eyes were closed, so he placed her in her crib, according to court affidavits.

When the baby's mother came out of the shower, he said he didn't tell her what happened because he was afraid to, plus he felt that Tori was OK. But after seven minutes he went back into the bedroom with a bottle and discovered the baby "had no control of her body," he told police.

He felt a large bump on the back side of Tori's head, and that's when he admitted to Arigo that he had dropped the baby on the floor.

On the way to St. Francis West hospital, Arigo said her daughter was pale, not moving and did not appear to be breathing.

St. Francis staff resuscitated her and placed her on life support prior to her being transferred to Kapiolani. They informed Kapiolani the infant had a skull fracture.

According to court records, Bentosino was convicted in July 1991 of abuse of a household member. He was sentenced to 13 days in jail, but 10 of those days were suspended providing he stayed out of trouble for one year.

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