Murder charges filed against couple accused of killing 8-week-old

INDIO, Calif. -

Murder charges were filed today against a 19-year-old woman and her 22-year-old boyfriend, who are accused in the killing of the woman's 8-week-old daughter in Palm Desert.

Sarah Catherine Connor and Joseph Eugene Champion, both of Palm Desert, are each charged with murder and assaulting a child, causing great bodily injury. Both pleaded not guilty at their arraignment this afternoon at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.

The public defender's office was appointed to represent both defendants, who are due back in court on June 10.

The two were arrested Wednesday, the same day the infant succumbed to what investigators said were several traumatic injuries, said Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Buompensiero.

The baby was not breathing when deputies responded to a juvenile medical aid call in the 73000 block of Pinyon Street about 6:15 a.m. May 24.

The infant was initially taken to Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage and later transferred to Loma Linda University Medical Center, Buompensiero said.

Bail was set at $1 million for Connor, who is also accused of violating her probation for misdemeanor forgery and fraud, to which she pleaded guilty last year, according to court records.

Champion was jailed without bail, according to jail records. 

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