A registered sex offender accused of fatally slashing his year-old daughter before throwing her off a cliff in the mountains south of the Coachella Valley, and also attacking the child's mother and a good Samaritan, pleaded not guilty today to murder and other charges.
Adam Slater, 50, is charged with felony counts of murder, attempted murder, assault on a child under 8 years old resulting in death, assault with a deadly weapon and child concealing, and one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.
He also faces a special circumstance allegation of committing a murder during the commission of a kidnapping, which makes him eligible for the death penalty if the District Attorney's Office decides to pursue it, and a sentence-enhancing allegation of using a knife in the commission of a murder.
He has a trial-readiness conference set for Nov. 11 at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
Slater was arrested May 7, 2020, in connection with a spate of alleged crimes the previous day that culminated in a rollover car crash on Highway 74 near Pinyon Crest, where he allegedly threw his daughter over "a steep cliff into a ravine," according to Riverside County sheriff's Sgt. Ben Ramirez.
Slater remains jailed without bail at the Larry D. Smith Correctional Facilty in Banning.
According to the sheriff's department, the series of events on May 6, 2020, began about 14 miles from the crash site in the 41000 block of Washington Street, outside the Southwest Community Church in Indian Wells, where deputies responded to a stabbing call about 8:30 a.m. that was described as a "domestic violence incident."
Deputies located an injured woman who was taken to a hospital with multiple stab wounds.
Slater and the woman, identified by family as Ashley Grome -- who was six months pregnant at the time of the attack -- were married, and the year-old daughter was theirs together, the family told News Channel 3's Jake Ingrassia.
Following the attack, Slater allegedly sped away in a vehicle with the child.
Deputies learned soon afterward that a rollover crash reported on Highway 74 around six miles south of Palm Desert could be connected to the original call.
According to sheriff's officials, passing motorists attempted to help Slater and his daughter escape the wreckage, but he allegedly stabbed one man attempting to help rescue his daughter.
"The suspect then took the girl from the arms of the male he stabbed. Multiple witnesses saw the suspect take the child and throw her over a steep cliff into a ravine," according to a sheriff's statement.
California Highway Patrol Officer Graham Aanestad testified during a preliminary hearing that he searched the area at the bottom of the cliff and saw hair peaking out from a pile of rocks. The child was found there, and pronounced dead at the scene.
It unclear if she was already dead prior to being thrown off the cliff. But Investigator Dario Hernandez with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Central Homicide Unit testified that an autopsy determined her cause of death was multiple stab wounds to the chest.
"The injuries to the chest were consistent with an injury possibly from a knife or some sort of object,'' said Hernandez.
After throwing the girl, Slater ran down into a canyon, where deputies detained him after a short foot chase, and he was taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries connected to the crash, according to the sheriff's department. Slater was discharged from the hospital the next day and arrested shortly afterward.
It was unclear if the man he allegedly stabbed required medical treatment.
Slater was in violation of the terms of his parole, according to California's Megan's Law website. He was convicted in 1995 of sexually penetrating a victim with a foreign object by force and served about two years in state prison before being released in 1997.