Central jail in downtown San Diego
The central jail on Front Street in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The father of an infant who died last week after being found with severe and suspicious injuries at a University City townhouse was behind bars Monday on suspicion of killing her, authorities said.

Jaime Javier Santillanes, 37, was arrested Wednesday, the day after the death of his 7-week-old daughter, according to the San Diego Police Department.

Patrol officers responding to a report of a non-breathing baby found the stricken child with her parents at a townhouse in the 3700 block of La Jolla Village Drive shortly after 10 p.m. March 18. Paramedics took the girl to Rady Children’s Hospital, where she died three days later.

“During the preliminary investigation, it was determined the infant had sustained serious traumatic internal injuries that were indicative of physical child abuse,” SDPD Lt. Steve Shebloski said.

The child’s name has been withheld pending completion of family notifications.

“Over the past several days, San Diego police detectives have interviewed witnesses, gathered evidence and worked closely with medical personnel who have specialized training in child abuse-related injuries to determine exactly what occurred,” Shebloski said Monday afternoon. “At this time, detectives have learned this incident appears to be a tragic … incident where the infant’s father inflicted the fatal injuries upon his daughter.”

Santillanes pleaded not guilty Monday afternoon to charges of murder and assault on a child causing death. The San Diego County District Attorney’s Office says he faces up to 25 years to life in state prison if convicted.

Santillanes is being held in custody without bail, but is due back in court next month for a hearing regarding his bail status.

Updated at 5:12 p.m. March 27, 2023

City News Service contributed to this article.