A Turlock mother will stand trial for the murder of her 2-year-old daughter, who died a slow death from dehydration and starvation, the medical examiner reported.
Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Dawna Frenchie Reeves ruled Monday there was enough cause to hold Brandy Lee Rose Devine over for trial on the charges lodged against her. Devine, 25, is facing a murder charge for the death of her 2-year-old daughter Stephanie Torres, as well as a felony charge of willful cruelty to a child and a misdemeanor charge of being under the influence of a controlled substance.
Stephanie, who had cerebral palsy, was found dead in her crib the afternoon of July 16, 2012. Devine kept Stephanie shut up in a bedroom with five cats for several days without checking on her or providing food and water, according to the district attorney’s office.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Eugene Carpenter Jr. testified Monday that Stephanie died from severe dehydration and malnutrition and that she likely went without food or water for several days.
“There was no evidence of food or water in the stomach at all,” Carpenter said.
During the autopsy Carpenter noted the toddler’s abdomen was caved in to the point that “you could almost see the spine.”
Carpenter testified Stephanie showed signs of long-term malnutrition. He noted that even though she was about to turn 3 years old, she was more the size of a 1 to newly turned 2 year old. He noted her medical records indicated she had a “failure to thrive” and had lost three pounds in a month and a half. She weighed 14 pounds at the time of her death, Carpenter said.
During Carpenter’s detailed description of Stephanie’s slow progress toward death, Devine sat in her chair motionless and looking straight ahead.
The Turlock detective who interviewed Devine after the discovery of Stephanie’s body testified on Friday that Devine told him that she had been feeling ill with flu-like symptoms and that she smoked some methamphetamine with her friend “Scott” the day before Stephanie’s dead body was discovered.
Prior to the testimony Deputy District Attorney John R. Mayne and Deputy Public Defender Marcus Mumford stipulated Devine’s blood test was positive for methamphetamine use sometime with 72 hours of the discovery of Stephanie’s death.
Devine also told the detective she assumed her 6-year-old daughter was taking care of Stephanie. The 6-year-old told the detective she tried to check on her sister but was kept out of the room by her mother. It was expected the now 7-year-old would take the stand during the preliminary hearing, but she was not called.
Turlock Detective Tim Redd was present to Devine’s interview and testified Devine told investigators she never checked on Stephanie because “she just needed a break.”
Devine is scheduled for an arraignment on the charges on March 18. She is being held at the Public Safety Center in lieu of a $1 million bail.