BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The father of the 8-year-old girl killed last year has pleaded not guilty to a charge of causing child endangerment in connection to her death.
Richard Rountree appeared in McLean County court Friday morning after he was charged on Jan. 7 “for circumstances surrounding the death of his minor daughter,” Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said. He is currently being held at the McLean County Jail.
In November, Rountree’s former girlfriend Cynthia Baker was found guilty for Rica Rountree’s murder. She kicked the girl in the stomach, which led to massive internal injuries that eventually killed her. Additionally, Rica’s autopsy results showed multiple scars, which indicated a months-long span of abuse.
She was scheduled to be sentenced later this month, but it has since been vacated because she is claiming ineffective assistance of counsel from her lawyer during the murder trial.
Rica’s biologically mother, Anntionetta Rountree, was at Rountree’s court appearance on Friday. She previously said Rountree should be held accountable for his alleged involvement in their daughter’s death.
During the murder trial, Rica’s father was interrogated after it was revealed Baker gave him a letter, asking him to “take the blame” for her.
Prosecutors made their case on text messages Baker and Rountree exchanged, complaining back and forth about Rica. Evidence also included videos from Baker’s cellphone that were played during witness testimony, and again during closing arguments, that depicted abuse and harassment.
Rountree is scheduled to be back in court Feb. 26.
This story will be updated.