EL CAJON, Calif. – An 18-month-old baby suffered from multiple head injuries, a broken arm and burns to the bottom of her feet – inflicted over four days – and was never taken to the hospital, an attorney said Thursday.
Deputy District Attorney Chantal de Mauregne told Judge Daniel Goldstein during an Alpine man and his girlfriend's arraignment that Leah Brown-Meza died from blunt force trauma.
"She had a burn on the bottom of her foot, and a broken upper arm. There were extensive head injuries with ultimately caused her death," said de Mauregne
Wiliey Foster, 26, and 21-year-old Lillie Golden Brown were charged in the death of the woman's young daughter. They both pleaded not guilty to multiple
Foster was arrested Friday and charged with murder and child abuse causing death. He is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.
Brown was taken into custody three days later and is charged with three counts of felony child endangerment.
The attorney described the toddler's injuries adding the defendants discussed it and never did anything.
Gretchen Von Helms, Foster's lawyer, said her client is "obviously sad and distraught."
"This is a tragic situation for all parties involved," she said outside the courtroom.
The defense attorney said other people had access to the girl during the short period of time she was with the defendants, and a third party could have inflicted her injuries. Both defendants are cooperating with investigators, she said, adding that her client has a 5-month-old child who shows no signs of injuries.
De Mauregne said she had no record of the toddler being injured in the past.
Sheriff's deputies and paramedics responding to a report that a child had stopped breathing in a motor home parked on a residential property in the 300 block of Hunter Lane found the girl's body shortly after noon on Dec. 6.
Homicide and child-abuse detectives were then called in to investigate the child's death "based on the circumstances and the presence of additional injuries to the victim," sheriff's Lt. Kenneth Nelson said.
Foster faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. Brown, whose bail was set at $300,000, faces up to 10 years.
"The family is quite traumatized, quite upset from both ends, everybody cares mostly about little Leah, however they're extremely traumatize they've lost a little girl and somebody they all loved very much," said de Mauregne.
The judge set a preliminary hearing for March 22.