In the days before her death, an Alpine toddler suffered multiple injuries to her head, a broken arm and a second- degree burn to the bottom of her foot, prosecutors said in court Thursday.
The final days of Leah Brown-Meza’s life were described by Deputy District Attorney Chantel de Mauregne.
Her mother and her mother's boyfriend sat in blue jail uniforms as they listened to the evidence presented against them.
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Lillie Brown, 21, a member of the Viejas tribe, faces three counts of willful cruelty to a child with great bodily injury and/or death. Her boyfriend, Wiliey Kevin Foster, 26, of Alpine, faces charges of murder and assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily harm or death. He was ordered held on $2 million bail.
Leah Brown-Meza died of blunt force trauma, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office. The 18-month-old was found unresponsive at an Alpine home just after noon on December 6.
San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies told NBC 7 that Lillie Brown reported waking up to find her daughter responsive and called for help.
The prosecutor described a different scenario in court.
Over the course of four and a half days, Brown-Meza suffered at least three different injuries, the prosecutor argued.
In addition to head injuries and a second-degree burn on the bottom of her foot, the toddler's upper arm was broken, the prosecutor told the judge.
“She would barely move it,” de Mauregne said. “They knew something was wrong.”
Also, the toddler refused to eat or drink in the days leading up to her death, the prosecutor alleged. Investigators estimate the toddler was with her mother from Friday to the day she died.
The child's biological father, a member of the Jamul Indian Village, shared joint custody with Brown. Leah was the great-granddaughter of the man who led the tribe over three decades and helped establish it as a band in the Kumeyeey Nation.
Both defendants entered not guilty pleas to the charges. Foster openly cried as the prosecutor described Leah's condition. He was ordered held on a $2 million bail.
Brown, who appeared in court for the first time Thursday, showed no emotion until Judge Daniel Goldstein set her bail. When Goldstein increased the requested bail from $200,000 to $300,000, Brown turned her eyes up to the ceiling.
Someone shouting out obscenities at the beginning of the hearing was removed. Goldstein warned the gallery that no outbursts would be tolerated.
The toddler was living in a mobile home parked outside a home on Hunter Lane in Alpine. The home belongs to Foster's parents.
Another infant lived in the home, prosecutors said. Foster's biological five-month-old was examined by Child Protective Services and appeared unharmed.
Von Helms was retained by Foster's family. Attorney Kenneth Elliott has been retained to represent Lillie Brown.
Leah's paternal great-grandfather, Kenneth Meza, is currently the Vice Chair for the Jamul Indian Village, one of 13 bands of the Kumeyaay Nation. He served as Chair of the tribe for more than 30 years and was instrumental in getting the band recognized by the federal government.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Homicide Detail at (858)974-2321.