Rockland Man Pleads Guilty to Manslaughter 

A Rockland man Friday pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the death of his baby daughter.Robert Harford Junior became emotional as he appeared before the judge in Waldo County Superior Court in Belfast.Meghan Hayward reports.Twenty-five-year-old Robert Harford Junior told the judge he accepts his role in the death of his daughter Ava Gushee, in August of 2008.Harford was originally charged with murder.”We’ve contended from the time of the indictment that this was not a murder and we were fully ready to go to trial if the state had continued to insist on a murder charge.”During part of the hearing, Harford became so emotional, a short recess was taken for him to collect himself.His father was present in the courtroom and also had a difficult time.”To see your son in a situation like this is hard. He’s never been in trouble before so this is tough.”In the courtroom, Harford disputed a few statements made by the State.”The references by the Attorney General to shaking the baby on at least two occasions. And he takes issue with that and says that the only kind of shaking that took place was when he had realized the baby wasn’t breathing properly and he tried to revive the baby.”Harford’s father says his son cherished the time he had with Ava.He had one word to describe her.”Beautiful.”He also says he remembers the phone call he received from his son on that August day.”He was hysterical. He was crying, screaming saying Dad I don’t know what happened. Ava’s not breathing. It was an awful moment.”Harford remains in the Knox County Jail until sentencing. He could spend up to 30 years in prison.