A 22-year-old Riverside man accused of killing his three-month-old daughter by wrapping her in a heavy blanket to silence her crying, causing the infant to suffocate, was behind bars Thursday, awaiting arraignment.

Kyle David Benitez is charged with murder, assault on a minor resulting in death and child cruelty for the death on December 30 of the baby girl, identified in court documents only by her initials, “E.B.”

Benitez made his initial court appearance Wednesday before Riverside County Superior Court Judge Sean Crandell, who appointed him a public defender and scheduled his arraignment for July 13 at the Riverside Hall of Justice.

The judge also ordered the defendant to be held in lieu of $1 million bail at the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside.

According to Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback, patrol officers were sent to Benitez’s residence on Sycamore Canyon Boulevard on December 30 to investigate reports of an unexplained infant death.

Railsback said that paramedics notified officers because the circumstances connected with the fatality were unclear.

Detectives from the police department’s Sexual Assault-Child Abuse Unit were assigned to the case and ultimately gathered evidence pointing to an alleged intentional act by her father, Railsback said.

He said it appeared that Benitez had “purposely wrapped (E.B.) in a heavy blanket and positioned her in a way to get her to stop crying.”

An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be “suffocation in the manner of a homicide,” according to the police spokesman.

Benitez was taken into custody at his apartment without incident on the night of June 23.

No charges have been filed against the infant’s mother, whose identity was not released.

The defendant has no documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions in Riverside County.

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