Justin Hale charged with murdering girlfriend's thirteen-month-old baby (1)

Year four of our Mile High Murder archive, which ended on May 17, was so brutal that we had to break our annual wrap-up into two parts; click here for part one, here for part two.

Since then, we haven't had a single Denver-metro entry. But unfortunately, our streak of relative peace is over due to the charging of Justin Hale in the death of his girlfriend's thirteen-month-old baby -- an incident that actually took place on May 18.

On that date, according to the 1st Judicial District DA's office, police were called to Hale's home, located at 9297 West 98th Place in Westminster, on a report of a child who was not breathing.

The young one in question was Brookelynn Palmer, who'd celebrated her first birthday just a month earlier. She was rushed to a nearby hospital, where doctors diagnosed her with "a severe skull fracture with severe swelling of the brain and subarachnoid hematoma" due to "abusive head trauma." She didn't respond to treatment and was taken off life support two days later, on May 20.

Brookelynn's mother wasn't home at the time of the incident, but the girl's grandmother, Dorothy Palmer, was. However, Dorothy was in another room and Brookelynn, who'd been throwing up and suffering from seizures, was in the care of Hale, age 31, when the sound of a "thump" could be heard.

Hale's explanation for the noise? According to Dorothy, he told her that Brookelynn had been sitting on a coffee table when he stepped away for a moment and she must've fallen and hit her head.

Clearly, prosecutors don't believe such a tumble could have produced the fatal injuries experienced by Brookelynn -- not given the seriousness of the charges leveled against him this week. He's accused of first-degree murder of a child under the age of twelve by a person in a position of trust and reckless child abuse resulting in death. If he's convicted on both counts, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Look below to see an interactive graphic showing the area near the crime scene (if you have problems seeing the image, click "View Larger Map"), as well as a larger version of Hale's mug shot.

View Larger Map

More from our Mile High Murder archive: "77 homicides in year four of Mile High Murder: See where they happened, part one" and "77 homicides in year four of Mile High Murder: See where they happened, part two."

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