Man accused of killing his 4-week-old daughter violently shook her until she stopped crying

Chattanooga police arrest suspect in connection with death of 4-week-old baby girl on Monday

Ivan Dominique Dunton
photo Ivan Dominique Dunton

The man arrested Monday in connection with the death of a 4-week-old baby girl previously pleaded guilty in two separate domestic assault cases, including an attack against a pregnant woman, records show.

Ivan Dunton, 26, is accused of shaking his daughter, Olivia, Monday morning until she stopped crying, which police say led to her death.

Court records show police responded to a medical emergency call in the 2100 block of Raulston Street around 11:15 a.m. There they found the child lying face-up on the carpet with Dunton over her frantically saying, "She's not breathing."

Hamilton County Emergency Medical Services transported the baby to a local hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Dunton initially told police his daughter fell down a flight of 13 steel and concrete stairs at his apartment in the 2200 block of East 27th Street. But when confronted with evidence, Dunton "changed his story completely," according to court records.

photo A four-week-old baby was found unresponsive Monday morning inside this Churchville neighborhood house near East 3rd Street.

Dunton told police he was "frustrated with his girlfriend's behavior" and the 4-week-old wouldn't stop crying. So he grabbed the baby and "shook her violently until she stopped crying," court records show.

He then placed her back in the bassinet and continued to get dressed.

Police say Dunton showed them how he shook his daughter "while gripping her chest tightly," court records show.

A short time later, Dunton placed her in a car seat and headed downstairs. That was when his 11-month-old son started screaming, court records state.

So he placed the 4-week-old on the sixth step and ran back upstairs to tend to his son. But in the process, he kicked the car seat over, causing the seat with his daughter to "tumble down the stairs," according to court records.

Dunton told police he picked the baby up but didn't seek medical attention for her. "She seemed to be OK other than bruised," he told police, according to court records.

At that point, Dunton started driving to his aunt and uncle's home in the 2100 block of Raulston Street. On the way there, he was checking on his daughter and realized she wasn't moving and seemed unresponsive.

He rushed to the house, pulled her out of the car and called 911 from his family's house phone.

After "several hours" of interviewing, police charged Dunton with criminal homicide and aggravated child abuse. He is being held at the Hamilton County Jail on a $2 million bond, according to online jail records.

Friends and family of the baby girl and her mother have shown an outpouring of support on the mother's Facebook page.

"You strong boookeep your head held high," one woman wrote. "I know you hurt it takes time to heal. [The baby's] dancing in heaven and looking down on you."

Another woman offered prayer and support on a publicly posted photo of the 4-week-old infant.

" my heart goes out to you and your family! God has his loving arms all around you," wrote Angela Keith. "God knows it's hard letting go of Olivia but she's safe with him now. Praying for comfort! Love you!"

In the meantime, a GoFundMe account has been set up to help with funeral costs.

Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call the Homicide Tip Line at 423-643-5100. Callers can remain anonymous.

Records show Dunton has pleaded guilty to two separate domestic assault charges in the past, one in 2015 and one in 2016.

In December 2015, he was arrested after a woman showed up at a local hospital to report an assault, court records show. She told police Dunton pushed her to the ground, choked her and struck her in the face.

At the time, police noted bruising and a small abrasion under her left eye, but found no evidence of her being choked.

After talking to Dunton, police said he claimed the woman pushed him first and as they were "scuffling, they fell over the mattress lying on the floor."

Police said he did not show any signs of having been assaulted by the woman.

Nearly a year later in October 2016, Dunton was accused of assaulting a another woman who told police she was three weeks pregnant at the time.

The woman said they had been in an argument before Dunton pulled her hair. The woman said she defended herself by punching him in the face.

At that point, witnesses told police, Dunton pulled the woman to the ground. She ran to the bedroom and jumped on the bed. Dunton jumped on top of her, pinned her down and began choking her. Meanwhile, the woman kept punching him in the face.

Police noted that Dunton contested the woman's and witnesses' accounts, saying he initially pulled on the woman's hair in a teasing manner.

After the woman punched him, he said he tried to calm her down "when his hand became tangled in her hair and she grabbed a hold of his shirt," according to court records.

He told police they fell to the ground while trying to separate.

In both cases, Dunton pleaded guilty and received a suspended sentence of 11 months and 29 days, meaning he was placed on probation, according to online court records. He also was required to complete 26 weeks of "batterer's intervention" and ordered to have no contact with the women.

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.