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Man Accused Of Murdering Girlfriend's Child After Breaking 18-Month-Old's Arm, Burning Her Foot
The child had reportedly suffered the abuse for days before her death.
Opening statements were made on Monday for the trial of a man accused of murdering his girlfriend's daughter in 2016.
Wiliey Foster, 28, is accused of killing 18-month-old Leah Brown-Meza, daughter of Lillie Brown, Foster’s then-girlfriend. Leah’s body was discovered in a motorhome in Alpine, California, in 2016, according to Fox 5 San Diego. Prosecutors said on Monday that Foster was the last person to see the toddler alive.
The night before Leah was found dead, Foster told Brown that he put the child to bed. Then, he played video games, according to San Diego County Sheriff's Department (SDSO) homicide investigators. Brown woke up at 11:30 AM the next day to find Leah blue and cold, according to reports. The Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death homicide caused by multiple blunt force trauma.
Allegedly, the mother didn’t want to call 911 for fear of losing custody. She was originally charged with willful cruelty to a child with great bodily injury and/or death. She was also charged with child endangerment, which she pleaded guilty to, according to Fox 5. Brown has not yet been sentenced for that conviction.
"She [Brown] didn't want to seek medical care for that child because the father of that child was trying to get custody away from her. He felt she was a bad mother because he thought she was using drugs," said defense attorney Jan Ronis.
According to Deputy District Attorney Chantal De Mauregne, it was Foster who allegedly didn’t want to take the toddler to the hospital.
"At one point, Lillie said ‘we got to take her to hospital.' The defendant told her ‘No. If we take her – CPS is going to get involved. They'll take her away from you, thinking you abused her,'" De Mauregne said.
Days before her death, Leah suffered extensive brain bleeding, a broken arm and a burn to the bottom of her foot, results from the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office stated. She was reportedly abused over a multiple-day timespan.
Ronis stated that Brown suffered from drug addiction. According to NBC San Diego, he said that drug addiction made her a less than perfect parent.
"She would basically impose upon Mr. Foster the care of that child because she was too neglectful or too lazy or under the influence of drugs or something else," Ronis said in court.
Brown told police she never hurt her child. She also claimed that she wasn’t around when any abuse occurred.