BARTLESVILLE, Okla. - State prosecutors filed charges Wednesday against three individuals believed to have played roles in the death of a Dewey toddler last month.
Marcus Trinidad Mitchell, 22, of Dewey has now been charged with first-degree murder involving the death of a child. Ashley Ann Williamson, 23, the toddler girl's mother, is charged with two counts of child neglect and one count of enabling child abuse by injury.
Mitchell's mother, 48-year-old Juanchelle Lanyal Fitch, also of Dewey, is charged with accessory to first-degree murder after the fact and with child neglect.
During their appearances before a Washington County District Court judge on Wednesday, the judge maintained their previously set bond amounts and ordered them back for March 30.
Mitchell and Williams are being held on $500,000 bonds, and Fitch, on a $250,000 bond.
They have been in custody since Friday when they were arrested at the Bartlesville Police Department following interviews in the continuing investigation into the cause of 15-month-old Emma Beth Warmberodt's death.
According to the affidavits filed Monday at the Washington County Courthouse, the investigation began on Feb. 24 when first responders found the child dead at a residence on the 300 block of Cherokee in Dewey.
They had been called there due to a call reporting an unresponsive, non-breathing child.
Dewey police and other first responders at the scene found Warmberodt with bruises to her head and chest and blood in her nasal cavity and mouth. When they tried to rescusitate her, they found her jaw stiff with possible rigormortis, indicating she had been dead for some time.
The body then sent to the medical examiner's office in Tulsa, an autopsy revealed the child “was a victim of a chronic pattern of abuse” and had died “as a result of blunt chest trauma.”
During interviews with police, Mitchell, the child's step-father, reportedly told investigators that on Feb. 24 he had been with child alone while the mother was at work. He said at one point the child was eating cereal and began to choke, at which point he struck her on the back. He reportedly admitted he afterward saw blood on her face, but said he cleaned her off and placed her in the playpen before left for work.
According to the report, police arrested Mitchell based on his own admissions and on physical evidence “indicating that Mr. Mitchell had used unreasonable force” against the toddler girl.
Police arrested Williamson based on her reported admission that she “allowed the child to be in the care of other persons who she suspected of physically abusing the child” and did nothing to protect the girl, according to the report.
In their report, police allege Williamson neglected her child by not giving her adequate medical care and not bringing her to a doctor. Additionally, they said she failed to give her child sanitation and shelter, the investigators finding her residence “a filthy and inappropriate living environment for a child.”
During interviews, Fitch, Mitchell's mother, reportedly admitted to police she had seen bruises on the child and suspected she was being abused but did nothing to protect the child.
Her charge of accessory to first-degree murder after the fact stems from her reported admission to lying to police and for trying to cover up evidence.
According to police, she said she had asked a witness to “delete text messages regarding the incident because police wanted them” after she was aware of the death and that it was a homicide.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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