INFANT DIES; MAN HELD IN MURDER INVESTIGATION

August 02, 2000 11:00 pm

By Todd Wels

Triplicate staff writer

A Crescent City man described as a hothead by a neighbor is in custody, arrested on charges that he murdered an 11-month-old baby girl last Saturday in his Seventh Street Home.

Richard Shine, 27, was arrested Tuesday, and charged with murder and committing a violent assault on a child under 8 by a care-giver.

The victim, Kya Thornton, was the daughter of his live-in companion.

Police allege that the crime took place sometime before 2:50 p.m., July 29, when Thornton was admitted to Sutter Coast Hospital.

Thorntons injuries were too severe to be treated at Sutter Coast Hospital requiring her and her mother and Shine to fly to the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

She died at 8:10 p.m. Monday at U.C. Davis Medical Center.

An autopsy performed shortly afterward showed the cause of death to be severe abusive head trauma, according to Sgt. Lance McHenry of the Sacramento Police Departments Homicide Unit.

Both McHenry and Crescent City Police Chief Bob West said the autopsy report ruled out the possibility of an accidental death. However, a final coroners report is still pending, according to McHenry.

The Sacramento Police had been asked to further investigate the case once Thornton was sent to Sacramento, according to West.

Shine lived at 472 Seventh Street, in a mid-sized mint-green house with a well-kept yard. An infant-sized wading pool sits in the front yard; teddy bears and stuffed animals line the front windows.

Neighbor Dennis Ricks said Wednesday that its docile exterior could be deceptive.

He said Shine and his companion were partiers, who had people coming and going at all hours.

Ricks characterized Shine as a hothead who once threatened to shoot his dog.

It doesnt surprise me, Ricks said, upon hearing that Shine had been arrested for Thorntons murder.

Susan Newland, who has known Shine for three years, disagreed.

She acknowledged that Shine had a short fuse and a history of violence toward other men, but added: I dont believe that he would hurt a woman or a child.

Shine had lived with the mother and baby since March, Newland said.

She said there had been no indication that Shine harbored any ill will toward Thornton.

He loved that baby and all of us knew that, she said. Im praying that this was an accident.

Crescent City police have issued a warrant for Shine to be transported back to Del Norte County for prosecution, since the actual crime is alleged to have taken place here.

However, since Thornton actually died in Sacramento, the crime could also be prosecuted there.

He probably will be prosecuted in Crescent City, McHenry said.

District Attorney Robert Drossel said he was reviewing the case, and would decide by 8 a.m. today whether to file charges against Shine.

West praised the Sacramento police for their assistance in the investigation.

The cooperation between these two agencies has been ongoing and thorough, he said. We really appreciate the help weve gotten from the Sacramento PD.