Stepdad charged with killing 3-year-old girl in Queens -

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Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Stepdad charged with killing 3-year-old girl in Queens

The 3-year-old girl who died after cops found her unconscious in her Queens apartment suffered a fatal beating, and now her stepdad is charged with murder, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Prosecutors hit Mark Jenkins — the stepdad of little Bella Edwards — with murder and assault charges Tuesday, after an autopsy showed the tot died Monday from blunt force trauma to her abdomen, the Queens District Attorney’s office said.
Other medical tests on Bella’s body are still pending, and police have not ruled out the possibility of sexual abuse, cop sources said.
On Facebook, Bella’s mom lamented she wasn’t able to protect her daughter, saying she’ll most miss her little girl’s hugs and kisses.
Queens mom Shamika Gonzalez took to Facebook Tuesday to vent her feelings about losing daughter Bella Edwards.
“I’m so sorry I wasn’t there to protect you,” Gonzalez said in an emotional Facebook post to Bella early Tuesday.
“This feels like a bad dream I can’t wake up from,” she wrote.
Bella Edwards, 3, may have been the victim of child abuse.(COURTESY SHAMIKA GONZALEZ)
A frantic 911 call around 6 p.m. Monday brought cops to Gonzalez’s Rockaways apartment, where officers frantically tried to revive the unconscious toddler.
Cops rushed Bella from the family’s Beach 105th St. apartment near Shore Front Parkway to St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, where she died, police said.
The girl showed signs of trauma consistent with abuse, sources said. The NYPD Special Victims Unit is investigating her death, as are detectives from the 100th Precinct, where a number of family members gathered in grief Tuesday afternoon.
“Keep my family in your prayers,” said Quintina Thorne, 28, a cousin. “Justice for Bella! Justice for Bella!”
The 32-year-old stepfather was the only adult with Bella for most of the day, police sources said. Jenkins, according to records, has four previous arrests. Three of them are sealed but he was convicted in the Bronx of attempted murder, serving up to 8 years in prison before he was conditionally released by the state Board of Parole in Sept. 2011.
“This is a terribly disturbing case. The victim here is an innocent little girl, whose body revealed traumatic abuse injuries. The defendant — who resided with the child’s mother — now faces the possibility of life imprisonment,” Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Mark Jenkins (DOCCS)
Gonzalez left the apartment at about 9 a.m. She returned about 5 p.m. and found Bella unconscious in her bed about a half-hour later, sources said.
Neighbor Laura Cabrera, 36, told reporters that she had just seen Bella on Easter Sunday. Jenkins was holding her hand, she said.
“I just told (Bella) how beautiful she was,” Cabrera said, crying, as she recalled the happy memory. “She said 'thank you' in the sweetest little voice. She was such a beautiful kid. You focused on her.”
She said Jenkins behaved normally toward the little girl.
“He was with her,” Cabrera said of Gonzalez’s husband. “It was unremarkable. He held her hand in the elevator. Nothing to make you turn your head. They were all a stunning family.”
Cabrera, a special education teacher who just became a new mom, was shocked to learn about the abuse.
Bella died Monday in the Rockaways apartment after police said she was found unconscious.
“I’m a teacher, too,” she said. “I’m trained to notice these things; I’m stunned.”
Sources with knowledge of the case said the city’s Administration of Children’s Services has never investigated any complaints of abuse against Bella, until now.
“Our top priority is protecting the safety and well-being of all children in New York City,” ACS spokesman Eric Ferrero said. “As soon as this family came to our attention last night, we immediately launched an investigation with the NYPD.”
Gonzalez said a vigil outside their home was slated for 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“Bella was a friendly, beautiful, affectionate, smart and loveable and the best daughter anyone can ask for,” Gonzalez said in a message to the Daily News. “She ... was (a) very affectionate sister to her baby brother Logan. She was loved by many who came to know her.”
Police said a 3-month-old baby was also found in the apartment. Medics took the tot to a hospital for evaluation.
The child won’t be returned to Gonzalez until after the investigation is concluded, officials said.

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