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Prosecutors drop murder charges in baby death

Prosecutors have dropped murder charges against a man who was originally linked to the death of his girlfriend’s 4-month-old daughter.

Jonathan Vining might have known what his Jurissa Ballance had done to little Aralee Jo, but the evidence was “insufficient to convict him of a crime,” prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said.

Aralee died in Dec. 2014 after suffering three acute brain bleeds and nine chronic rib fractures. She was described as a “very happy baby” by her mother, according to an arrest report.

Jurissa Ballance, 20, and her 23-year-old boyfriend were arrested eight months later by Las Vegas police. Both were charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse or neglect with substantial bodily harm, according to the report.

Charges against Vining were dropped earlier this week, just before a scheduled preliminary hearing.

A report from the Clark County coroner’s office found that Aralee’s cause of death was complications of non-accidental injury. Her death was ruled a homicide.

Vining, who lived part time at the home of Ballance’s mother, told police that “if Aralee was handed to him, and he would grab her around her ribs, Aralee would start crying like he hurt her.”

DiGiacomo said Vining’s statement was consistent with physical evidence in the case.

“He indicates that he’s never in possession of the baby the time the injuries occur,” DiGiacomo said. “There’s no evidence to indicate he did anything. The law does not impose upon him a duty to the child that’s not his.”

An abuse allegation involving Aralee was reported to the Clark County Department of Family Services the day she was born, but the allegation was deemed unsubstantiated, and the case was closed.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find him on Twitter: @randompoker

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