Two parents in Senoia are charged in the death of their 2-year-old daughter after investigators say the child had a fractured skull, severe burns and multiple bruises.
Elizabeth Lynn Lee, 29, is charged with felony murder and aggravated battery. Daniel “DJ” Lenwood Lee, 28, is facing charges of second degree child cruelty. They told investigators her death was an accident.
The Coweta County Sheriff's Office said the couple had recently lost custody of the girl and her five siblings because the parents were addicted to meth; they completed a court-ordered program and regained custody in August 2017.
Coweta County Drug Court issued a statement about the baby's death on Friday:
"Staff of the Accountability Court programs are devastated by this horrific tragedy. We are saddened by the loss of little Aleigha, who along with her siblings, was returned to her parent’s home in August of 2017.
In the underlying dependency case, there was never an issue of Physical abuse of the children.
Mr. and Mrs. Lee successfully completed every aspect of their case plan which dissolved any dependency that existed at that time, time, thus eliminating any jurisdiction that the court had over the family."
Police said the couple called 911 stating that they woke up and found their baby, Aleigha, unresponsive at their home on Tranquil Road.
The baby was pronounced dead at the hospital.
According to the warrant from Coweta County, the child suffered "excessive physical and mental pain" from a severe burn on her right leg, a skull fracture and other injuries.
Examiners said that the child had different injuries "from her head to her toes." There were bruises and ligature marks around her neck, along with a burn that extended from her hip area all the way to her foot.
According to court documents, Elizabeth Lee told investigators that the child was burned accidentally by a hot hair straightener iron, which had been left on in the bathroom. She told police the family didn't seek medical attention for the child because they didn't have health insurance and she was afraid that state officials would "take away her children."
Investigators believe the burns were no accident -- the injuries were so severe that the child lost the use of her right leg.
The documents also said that the mother told investigators that one of her other children hit and bit the child, but she could not explain all of the bruising. In another interview, according to the documents,she admitted to hitting Aleigha on her rear end and lower back after finding her playing in an unflushed toilet in the bathroom.
Daniel Lee also told police the child was burned by a hair straightener. He said one of the other bruises came from the child falling off of a toilet and hitting her head on a clothes basket -- and that she also hit her head on a wooden hope chest in the closet. He told police he questioned his wife about the child's bruises and burns.
Medical examiners determined that the child had blunt force trauma to her face, had a swollen brain and lacerated liver. The 2-year-old also suffered dehydration and severe burns. Investigators ruled the injuries as "non-accidental trauma."
Investigators determined that neither parent could offer any "medical or accidental plausible explanation" for the child's death.
The parents lost custody of their six children less than two years ago as they struggled with a methamphetamine addiction, according to Coweta County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy James Yarbrough. They regained custody in August, 2017, after going through a court-mandated treatment program.
The couple was arrested Sunday night and are currently being held at Coweta County Jail. She is charged with felony murder, aggravated battery and second degree child cruelty. He is charged with second degree child cruelty.
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