Mom, Boyfriend Plead Not Guilty After Daughter, 3, Stored in Suitcase, Freezer

A mother and her boyfriend on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to murder and assault on a child, stemming from the death of a 3-year-old girl found in the mother's Napa apartment.

Napa County District Attorney Gary Lieberstein said Sara Kreuger, 23, and her boyfriend, Ryan Scott Warner, 26,  entered the pleas in court after being charged in early February with the brutal murder of Kreuger's daughter, Kayleigh Slusher.

Lieberstein added that the exact cause of death was multiple blunt force impact injuries to head, torso and extremities due to fatal child abuse and neglect.

Court documents indicate Kayleigh's body was stored in a suitcase and then a freezer for three days, and that the little girl was "beaten to death" before that.

Kayleigh was found dead on a bed Feb. 1 at her mom's apartment in the 200 block of Wilkins Avenue in Napa. When police were conducting a welfare check on the girl, they said they found signs of foul play, including blunt-force trauma.

 In a previous court appearance, defense lawyer Mervin Lernhart appeared with Krueger, saying nothing has been proven. 

“She's been accused,” Lernhart said after court, “but she's presumed innocent at this time.”

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