Accused Testifies About Death of His Infant Daughter

By Julie Carey
|  Monday, Sep 30, 2013  |  Updated 8:28 PM EDT
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Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports on the testimony of David Thatcher Jr., who is on trial in the death of his infant daughter.

Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey

Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reports on the testimony of David Thatcher Jr., who is on trial in the death of his infant daughter.

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A young Fairfax County father accused of injuring his twin daughters, causing the death of one, took the stand in his own defense Monday.

David Thatcher Jr. told jurors he made up details he revealed in a confession to a police detective just days after 6-week-old Thalia Thatcher died.

Thatcher testified he confessed to hurting his infant twins because he thought Fairfax County police would go easier on him. Thatcher also said he hoped a confession would clear the way for relatives to visit his surviving daughter, Myana, who was still fighting for her life at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The twins were born prematurely April 23, 2012, to Thatcher's live-in girlfriend. The couple frequently took the twins to the pediatrician and Inova Fairfax Hospital. Thatcher testified that Thalia would often have choking fits and both babies had trouble eating.

On June 7, 2012, Thatcher and the babies’ mother called 911 when Thalia stopped breathing. She died soon after at Inova Fairfax.

"Did you see you daughter die?" Defense attorney Dawn Butorac asked.

"Yes," replied Thatcher.

"How was that?" asked Butorac.

"Very difficult," said Thatcher. "I don't remember how long I cried."

Two days later, Myana was admitted to the hospital.

Fairfax County police detectives then began to question Thatcher. On June 11, in a videotaped police interview, Thatcher confessed to inflicting a series of injuries to the twins. Jurors watched the confession last week.

Thatcher also failed a polygraph exam.

But on the stand Monday, Thatcher told jurors he made up the details in his confession.

"Why confess?" his attorney asked.

"I thought it would be better if I told them what they wanted to hear," Thatcher said.

"Did you ever do anything to hurt to hurt or injure either of your daughters?" Butorac asked.

"No," replied Thatcher.

The medical examiner's report found evidence of blunt force trauma to the back of Thalia's head. But a doctor who evaluated Thalia's test results for the defense testified the CT scans show both babies had encephalitis, something that could cause brain hemorrhages. Dr. Steven Gabaess, a retired emergency room physician from California, testified he also believes Thalia died from lack of oxygen when she was improperly intubated after the 911 call.

After her hospitalization, the surviving twin was cared for by Thatcher's parents. She is now in the custody of her mother.

Closing arguments are set for Wednesday.

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