OGDEN -- In a rare outpouring of support, nine family members and friends have written letters to the judge on behalf of Robert Glen Abbott, who is charged with child abuse homicide in the death of his stepdaughter.
Abbott, 31, is facing the first- degree felony in the Sept. 9 death of his 2-year-old stepdaughter, Hailey, at their home in Roy.
Police were called to the home in the 1900 block of 4700 South that morning when the girl's mother called authorities to say Hailey was unresponsive.
Emergency medical responders found the girl dead from apparent suffocation.
Instead of turning away from one accused of homicide, supporters in the 15 pages of letters stand up for Abbott as one who defended weaker children from bullies in school.
One of the letters to 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones came from Abbott's friend Justin Olson, who wrote from Iraq while working as a defense contractor.
"These allegations against Robert can not be," wrote Olson, who said he met Abbott, best man at his wedding, at age 3.
"He does not have it in him to harm someone. ... Robert loves animals and children."
Olson wrote that he once swatted his dog's hind end, which prompted an argument with Abbott.
"He would not tolerate that kind of punishment," Olson wrote. "And I have a big dog."
Olson wrote that he trusts Abbott completely and "would leave him alone with my three children any day of the week."
Olson's father, Bob, of Roy, baptized Abbott into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the fall of 2010 on the same day Abbott married Hailey's mother, Jamie.
"I have never seen Robert be violent in any fashion," Bob Olson wrote. "He typically exhibits a calm and quiet disposition. Seeing others lose their temper or act out causes him discomfort."
In an interview, Bob Olson said Abbott's wife is now back with him after initially believing the charge against him.
He called Abbott's apparent confession to police the result of officers trying to weigh guilt on him, because he had disciplined the girl harshly the night before she was found not breathing.
At Abbott's Dec. 9 preliminary hearing, the deputy State Medical Examiner said if it weren't for Roy police calling him with Abbott's statements during his autopsy of the child, the death would have been ruled as undetermined.
The letters referred to possible learning disabilities Abbott had when he was younger due to an attention deficit disorder that required medication. That led to problems with prescription drugs and eventually methadone -clinic treatment that he completed successfully this year, the letters mention.
Abbott's uncle Donald Adams, of Harrisville, described Abbott as having a "delicate psyche" and never being rude or rebellious. "He was by far my children's favorite cousin."
"I've never had a son, but if I did, I would be proud to have one like Robbie," wrote family friend Kristin Norris, of Ogden.
Abbott's mother, Susan, described her son as manipulated by the system and unfairly accused. "The only thing he is guilty of was being an overprotective parent.
"Every time those kids sneezed, he would call me and ask if he should take them to the doctor."
She credited him for saving the life of his older stepdaughter, taking her to the hospital for a fever and stomachache that resulted in an appendectomy.
"He is a lover of all things living," family friend Paula Berrett wrote of Abbott. "You knew when you saw him he would hug you and always, always, ask how things were going."
None of the letters address Abbott's 2005 assault conviction in South Ogden.
Police were called to the Abbott home over a domestic disturbance between Abbott and his parents, said Marci Edwards, South Ogden police spokeswoman.
"There was a verbal altercation and he had pushed his mother," she said. "He was cited."
Susan Abbott described the incident in an email: Her son came home upset over something a friend had done. He wanted to leave for another friend's home, but she and his father worried he was too agitated to drive.
"He became argumentative and just walked past me with a bit of a shoulder bump, not a shove with his hand, and I was not hurt," she wrote.
"But in my infinite wisdom and being an overprotective mother, I felt it best to call the police for intervention so that he would not be able to drive and possibly hurt himself or others."
Later that night, he calmed down and was released, she wrote. "He called and apologized and asked if he could come home, which he did."
Abbott is scheduled for a Feb. 22 status conference. His defense attorneys have talked of challenging Abbott's statements to police and filed motions regarding the hiring of experts to contest other evidence in the case.
The motions have been sealed as allowed under rules of the court to prevent the prosecution from access to the defense's working theories while they are still in development.