TWIN FALLS — A Jerome man has been charged in the 2017 murder of 20-month-old Lyryk Jean Altom.
Joshua Molina, 33, was arrested Tuesday and arraigned Wednesday on one count of first-degree murder and four counts of felony injury to a child.
Molina was the boyfriend of the child’s mother, Amanda Dunlap, according to court documents. Dunlap was arrested shortly after Lyryk’s death in October on charges of first-degree murder, eight felony counts of injury to a child and one misdemeanor count of injury to a child.
Recent police interviews with Dunlap and a review of text messages on her phone revealed that she had previously lied to law enforcement about Molina’s relationship with Lyryk, according to court documents.
Photos and texts suggest that Molina, who told police at the time of Lyryk’s death that he was not really involved in the medical care of the baby, may have physically abused the infant over a period of several months.
“Josh broke my kid today,” Dunlap texted a friend in September, after Molina broke Lyryk’s wrist. Dunlap told her friend that the incident was an accident.
The next week, Dunlap left her daughter and 3-year-old son alone with Molina and returned to find bruising on Lyryk. Molina said Dunlap’s son and his son, who was also 3 years old at the time, had beaten up the baby. A doctor at St. Luke’s later told police he didn’t believe the injuries could have been caused by small children.
When Dunlap texted the same friend on Oct. 8 that Lyryk had suffered “another seizure,” she said Molina wouldn’t let her take Lyryk to see a doctor.
Molina had been blowing marijuana into Lyryk’s face to alleviate the symptoms of her seizures, Dunlap told the police in a recent interview, and he was afraid that his son would be taken away from him if Lyryk tested positive for marijuana.
That same day, Dunlap’s friend picked Dunlap and Lyryk up and took them to the emergency room. Lyryk was flown to Boise, where she died six days later.
Lyryk’s doctor at St. Luke’s told police the baby had bleeding in her brain, and said he believed her head injuries were caused by non-accidental blunt force trauma.
While driving up to Boise on Oct. 8, Dunlap and Molina discussed what to tell law enforcement, Dunlap told police in a recent interview. She agreed to a cover story because she was “in shock and overwhelmed,” according to a police affidavit.
It’s unknown how Molina’s arrest could affect Dunlap’s case, as Twin Falls Prosecutor Grant Loebs declined to comment. A long-delayed preliminary hearing for Dunlap is scheduled for Friday.
Molina has been jailed without bond.