A Van Buren man accused of suffocating his 2-month-old daughter pleaded not guilty on Wednesday in Crawford County Circuit Court.
Tyler Eugene Buchanan, 20, is charged with capital murder.
The public defender’s office entered the not-guilty plea for Buchanan and waived formal arraignment before Judge Gary R. Cottrell.
Prosecuting Attorney Marc McCune charged Buchanan with capital murder following his June 12 arrest for first-degree murder.
McCune said the charge was upgraded on grounds Buchanan manifested “extreme indifference to the value of human life” toward his daughter.
Capital murder in Arkansas is punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.
Buchanan was arrested by Officer Wes Marsh after Van Buren police were called to the 1100 block of Baldwin Street in reference to an unresponsive infant, who was transported to Sparks Medical Center - Van Buren where the child was pronounced dead, according to an affidavit of probable cause.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Robert Presley said Buchanan confessed to holding the child’s head against his shoulder until she quit breathing.
The affidavit states the child was screaming and Buchanan was trying to get the baby to stop screaming so he could sleep.
Buchanan initially told police his child woke up around 5:30 a.m. and he fed her a bottle and put her back to sleep, the affidavit sates. Buchanan then told police he woke up later, discovered the child was not breathing and attempted to shock the child’s heart using an extension cord that was cut, the affidavit further states.
Marsh’s affidavit states the child’s death occurred much earlier than Buchanan reported and he confessed to knowing about the child’s death hours before it was reported.
“Buchanan took active steps to cover up the crime, including not notifying the mother of the child who lives in the same residence,” the affidavit states. “Buchanan admitted that he knew the child stopped breathing around 2 a.m. and he knew that holding the child’s head against his shoulder caused the child to stop breathing.”
Buchanan is being held in the Crawford County Detention Center on a $1 million bond.