Gilbert, AZ – A 4-year-old girl has died from injuries she sustained after she was beaten by her mother’s boyfriend for spilling her milk near his Xbox, police said.
The child suffered from severe brain and spinal injuries, and her body showed evidence of sexual abuse, KSAZ reported.
Bella Joy, who had been hospitalized since Jan. 11, succumbed to her injuries on Jan. 13.
Investigators said that Major Murry, 24, was babysitting the little girl on Jan. 11, from 3 a.m. until about 1:30 p.m., while her mother was at work.
When Bella’s mother called to let Murry know she was off shift, he told her that Bella was unresponsive, and she called 911, The Arizona Republic reported.
Police and emergency personnel rushed to Murry’s residence and began performing lifesaving measures on the child, who was subsequently hospitalized in Mesa.
Investigators learned that the little girl sustained severe brain hemorrhaging, and has bruises on her left ear, forehead, and face. Her back, both hips, and vagina also showed signs of trauma, according to court records.
Murry claimed that Bella spilled milk near his Xbox earlier in the day while they were at his girlfriend’s home in Tempe, and that he spanked her. He told police that the child fell backwards, and hit her head on the wooden floor.
Murry said he then took Bella to his house, where he put her down for a nap.
He claimed that he later smelled urine, which prompted him to go check on the little girl, and he found that she had urinated in the bed. Murry said that was also when he noticed she was unresponsive.
Instead of calling 911, Murry said he took the unconscious child and gave her a bath in an attempt to revive her.
He told police that he stuck his finger down her throat, and struck her in the face and abdomen, but that she had not regained consciousness by the time her mother called him.
Murry was initially charged with one count of child abuse, which Maricopa County Superior Court Commissioner Jane McLaughlin noted “is prison mandatory.”
During the initial court appearance on Friday, McLaughlin said that she was surprised that Murry had not been charged with child molestation offenses.
“There are substantial allegations of sexual molestation,” she said. “I do not know why they didn’t book you on that. The court would’ve found probable cause for that because the court finds that, based on the injuries alleged to the victim, there is no other way those injuries, plus injuries to a 4-year-old’s vagina, that that’s anything other than criminal behavior.”
McLaughlin ordered that Murry be held on a $150,000 cash bond, but pointed out the strong possibility of additional charges.
Little Bella was still clinging to life at the time of the hearing.
“You are facing mandatory prison and a potential murder charge,” McLaughlin said. “The allegations are that you have either killed or severely injured a child…and that there was some kind of violent penetration of a 4-year-old’s vagina that resulted in an injury.”
She then prohibited him from having contact with any children, including Bella, and ordered him to have no communication or contact with his girlfriend.
According to The Arizona Republic, the Arizona Department of Child Safety (DCS) said they received a report on Aug. 23, 2017, that Murry had slapped Bella, and that she sustained injuries to her face and forehead.
DCS and Tempe police spoke with Murry and his girlfriend, who denied that he had harmed the little girl.
Because Bella, Murry and the mother all told investigators that Bella had injured herself in a fall, there was not enough evidence to prove that Murry had assaulted her.
DCS said that Bella’s mother refused their offers to help her.