A stay-at-home mother charged with fatally beating her 3-year-old daughter called 911 to report two intruders had broken into their Northwest Side apartment and hurt the girl, Cook County prosecutors said Wednesday.
The victim, Ashley Mendoza, described by a family member as “a sweet, smart girl,” was found dead Sunday on the kitchen floor by paramedics. An autopsy found the girl had bruising all over her back, teeth missing and possible fractures to several bones, said Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Mack.
Her mother, Maria Espinoza-Perez, 24, told police detectives she had been abusing Ashley for years, according to court records. Prosecutors said police found suspected blood spatter on the child’s teddy bear.
“We are crushed,” Juan Gonzalez, Espinoza-Perez’s brother-in-law, said in Spanish. “We don’t know what to do and what to say. It’s very hard.”
“For the last year and a half, we have been distanced from her,” Gonzalez said. “One day she just wanted to change everything her way and look what happened.”
Appearing in court Wednesday in sandals, jeans and a black shirt, Espinoza-Perez listened to a Spanish interpreter as Judge James Brown ordered her held without bail.
Espinoza-Perez, who was home alone with her daughter, called her boyfriend at about 8 p.m. and said someone had broken into their apartment and Ashley wasn’t breathing, Mack said. She then called 911 at about 8:20 p.m. and reported two males had broken into the home and injured her daughter before fleeing, police records allege.
Police found no signs of a break-in but suspected blood spatter in the bathroom as well as on a teddy bear, blanket, mattress and the wooden crib frame in Ashley’s bedroom.
Mack said that Espinoza-Perez later gave videotaped statements admitting to making up the home invasion as well as cleaning up Ashley’s blood and causing some of her injuries.
The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which had no prior contact with the family, is investigating the mother for suspected child abuse, said spokeswoman Karen Hawkins. There are no other children in the home, she said.
Source: Chicago Tribune