Orange County father denied appeal in life sentence for killing his child

Published 5:28 pm Wednesday, November 29, 2023

The Ninth District of Texas Court of Appeals denied the appeal request of an Orange County father who is serving life without parole in the bludgeoning death of his 2-year-old daughter.

Yovahnis Roque was convicted of the Feb. 19, 2019, capital murder of his daughter, Savannah “Savi” Roque.

That verdict was handed down in Orange County Judge Courtney Arkeen’s 128th District Court in August 2021.

In the appeal, Roque, now 31, challenged the admissibility of evidence suggesting he was voluntarily intoxicated at the time of the incident, which is evidence that could preclude a jury from finding him insane, according to the court document.

The court’s conclusion is that his arguments lacked merit and the trial court’s judgment is affirmed.

The Appeals court outlined some of the relevant testimony in the case, including information from responding Orange Police Department officers.

They described finding the father at the doorway of the house, naked and covered with blood and brain matter. Once inside the home, the body of the child was found in a closet. Roque was read his rights and did not then articulate an understanding of his rights, but stated he killed his daughter.

During later interviews he was coherent and also made nonsensical statements, such as stating a foreign object was in the child’s brain but he did not kill her and that he did hit her in the head with a hammer.

A forensic pathologist testified to the autopsy and said the injuries of the child were consistent with the claws from a claw hammer.

Roque is being held in the Estelle Unit in Huntsville on a sentence of life without parole.

— Written by Mary Meaux