Crime

Trial for father accused of murdering his 2-year-old daughter to begin Tuesday in Orange

28-year-old Yovahnis Roque, accused of brutally murdering his daughter, Savanna Roque, 2

ORANGE, Texas — A jury was selected Monday shortly after 5 p.m. for the trial of an Orange County father accused of killing his 2-year-old daughter.

Opening statements for the trial of 28-year-old Yovahnis Roque, accused of brutally murdering his daughter, Savanna Roque, 2, will begin Tuesday. Police said Roque used a hammer during the 2019 fatal attack.

If convicted of capital murder, Roque could face life in prison or the death penalty.

Roque told investigators that he thought his daughter had an electronic chip in her head and needed to get rid of it. He also claimed the government was controlling him and said he did not kill his daughter.

Ryan Gertz, Roque’s defense attorney, previously told 12News he believes Roque was criminally insane at the time of the brutal murder.

Roque is currently in the Orange County Jail being held on a $2 million bond, according to jail records.

Credit: Family PhotoSvanna Roque, 2, died allegedly at the hands of her father, Yovahnis Roque, 26, of Orange.

Roque was arrested naked and covered in blood on the front porch of his house on Feb. 20, 2019. After detaining Roque, police entered the house and found his daughter’s body in a bedroom closet, according to a 2019 news release.

During Roque’s first court appearance, he could be heard saying the government made him do it and “this is fake, it’s all fake.” At one point he repeated, “I don’t know what you want from me.”

Roque was indicted on a capital murder charge April 11, 2019. 

In a 2019 interview with 12News, Martha Roque, Yovahnis Roque’s mother said she was filled with mixed emotions. She said Yovahnis Roque loved Savannah, and while she believes he’s ill, she said that will never excuse what he did.

Martha Roque said the morning of the murder, she had gone to see Orange County Judge Chad Jenkins to have Yovahnis Roque picked up and evaluated, but when she got back, it was too late.

Family and friends of Yovahnis Roque said he had struggled with mental illness, drug use and the 2016  death of his daughter’s mother, Rachel Foster.

Savanna Roque was later taken to Florida to be buried near her mother’s grave.

If you have information about a crime you could earn a cash reward of up to $1000 by providing an ANONYMOUS tip to Crime Stoppers of Southeast Texas.

Call 833-TIPS (8477) or download the P3Tips App on your mobile device to submit your tip anonymously.

Written by Tiana Johnson (KBMT)

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