'It doesn't make sense to most of us that someone would be that passionate about video games,' a police sergeant tells PEOPLE

By Darla Atlas
Updated April 26, 2016 03:50 PM
Credit: Watauga Police Department

On Friday, a Texas father was charged with capital murder in the death of his 2-year-old daughter, whom he’d been watching at their Watauga, Texas home last December.

The cause of death of 2-year-old Ellie Sanders was asphyxiation, according to an arrest affidavit by the Watauga Police Department. Anthony Michael Sanders, her father, remains behind bars, with bail set for $1 million.

Watauga Police Sgt. Jason Babcock says authorities believe Ellie may have disrupted Sanders’s computer game, which allegedly sent Sanders into a rage.

“What he was doing that day is what he did most days,” Babcock says, referring to his gaming hobby. “But he was also responsible for watching the kids. The theory is that he was irritated because he was trying to do his computer games. They are very important to him.”

He adds: “Obviously, someone in their right mind wouldn’t do that. It doesn’t make sense to most of us that someone would be that passionate about video games.”

On the day the toddler was killed, her mother had gone to an art show in nearby Arlington, Texas, with a friend. Sanders, 31, was in charge of watching Ellie and her 5-year-old brother from about 10 a.m. until their mother arrived home at 8:30 p.m.

The mother “stated that she brought food home for Anthony that he ate while at his computer desk,” the affidavit says. “Approximately 30 minutes later, Anthony went to the bedroom where the 2-year-old female was said to be sleeping. Shortly after Anthony went into the bedroom, she heard Anthony yelling for her to call 911 because the 2-year-old female was not breathing.”

When paramedics arrived, they determined that the little girl “did not have a pulse and was not breathing,” the report says. Once she was transported to an ambulance, it was discovered that “there was severe bruising” on her face and back.

“She appeared to have been assaulted,” the affidavit states.

At the hospital, doctors told the officers that she had numerous injuries, including bruising all over her body “as if it had occurred recently.” On her back were two bite marks, which appeared to have been made by an adult.

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Babcock says Sanders, who weighs 550 pounds, is on disability. He doesn’t know what Sanders’s work history is, “but I think it has been awhile” since he worked, Babcock says.

Babcock says Ellie’s mother, who he says is an artist, “is doing the best she can.”

It was unknown as of press time if Sanders had retained an attorney or entered a plea.