Gwinnett County

Family defends father accused of shaking daughter to death: 'He's not a killer'

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — A father accused of shaking his infant daughter to death was charged with her murder Wednesday as family members defended him.

Hiker Rios, 22, was charged in the death of his 2-month-old daughter Mayalen Race earlier this month.

On July 1, Gwinnett police responded to reports of a baby who wasn't breathing at Kaiser Emergency Care in Duluth on. The baby, who the family called 'Grace,' died July 4. Officials at another hospital determined that she died of shaken baby syndrome.

Channel 2's Matt Johnson was in court Wednesday afternoon, as family members shared loving photos of father and daughter and claimed he is innocent.

Family members even wore pictures of Rios and Grace while they listened to police detail the charges against him.


"There were numerous traumatic injuries to include bruises to the face, jaw, arm, hips," Detective D. Laney with the Gwinnett County Police Department said.

Police say Rios and Grace were alone at a relative's house July 1 while the child's mom ran errands.

A detective testified that Rios left the child on a couch while he went to get some water.

"At that point, he noticed that the child was sort of fussy again, and was having difficulty breathing," Laney said. "He picked up the child and the child was limp."

Police say he performed mouth-to-mouth before rushing the baby to Kaiser Emergency Care in Duluth.

No one initially suspected foul play until first responders took the baby to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite two and a half hours later.

Police say a doctor found signs of shaken baby syndrome. Rios' attorney has questions about why no one saw abuse from the outset.

"Two and a half hours later the child is having trouble at CHOA and in between, Grace is with a dozen or so unnamed medical personnel," attorney Max Hirsh said.

Rios was charged with child cruelty and felony murder.

Family members shared pictures with Johnson but did not want to speak.