I am sure that some of you reading this have already known about this precious child. I have fallen behind in my blogging and research, therefore, this sad sad story was new to me.
Some of what I found on the web:
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE)
– Brianna Lopez would be 6 years old now had her death
at 6 months not revealed perhaps the most brutal child-abuse case in state history and prompted a major change in New Mexico law.
But as the July 19 anniversary of her death nears, some say the changes have not gone far enough.
The story of Baby Brianna is a hard one, but it is the ugly reality of child abuse
. Violent family members caused her death while others hid what they knew was going on.
“They raped her; they beat her,” said District Attorney Susana Martinez who prosecuted the case. “She had bite marks on her face, cheek, head, arms, legs, chest, torso, everywhere.
“Literally bruised from head to toe, from the top of her head all throughout her body all the way to the big toe on her right foot.”
She was beaten and raped by her own family.
“Massive bruising on the head, and then her little fingers were lacerated, toes,” said Detective Lindell Wright who was the first officer on the scene.
Brianna died on July 19, 2002. When Wright saw her body at a hospital, he remembers one thought going through his mind: “I’ve got a lot to do.”
Later, when he had time to look back, “I cried my eyes out. It will stay with me for the rest of my life.”
Investigators said Brianna’s mother and father, Stephanie Lopez and Andy Walters, and her uncle Steven Lopez were responsible.
The night before, Steven and Andy threw Brianna to the ceiling, then let her slam to the ground. And they had raped her time and time again.
Brianna’s mother had bitten her child. The source of the other bruises remains a mystery.
“Bite marks throughout her body; there were old and new,” Wright said. “She had skull
fractures that were old and new.
“She had bleeding on the brain
both old and new which means she had been abused physically her entire life.”
And while all the abuse was going on another uncle and a grandmother knew but never reported it or tried to stop it.
Martinez won convictions and maximum sentences for the three abusers.
“It tests you to the point you’re not sure you can speak,” Martinez said. “You’re afraid that the emotion will take over.”
For some Martinez’s successful prosecution only highlighted shortcomings in the law.
When Baby Brianna was killed a person who committed intentional child abuse resulting in death faced a maximum of 18 years in prison. Her case brought on a major change.
“Eighteen years for the life of a child?” State Sen. Mary Jane Garcia of DoÃ±a Ana said. “I thought it was absurd.”
It took Garcia three years of trying, but she changed the law to make the crime punishable by a life sentence.
“If the judges continue to sentence to the maximum under the new law, the law is sufficient,” Martinez said. “But if a judge doesn’t sentence them to the maximum to try to give some sort of deterrent effect to the rest of the community we’ve lost.”
Both Martinez and Garcia said more needs to be done to punish people like Brianna’s grandmother and uncle who fail to report abuse.
“Those two individuals knew she was being abused,” Martinez said. “She was full of bruises that were old: green, brown, yellow-colored.
“Had they reported it early, had they and insisted on that child not being abused maybe we would have never had her death take place.”
For failing to report the abuse the three were sentenced to 30 days in jail. The maximum is one year.
“I think perhaps we ought to try to make it five years at least,” Garcia said. “I would go for something like that, and I would certainly try it.”
However Wright said it’s not just the law that needs to change.
“I think a lot of proactive still needs to happen as far as young parents need to have proper education, proper support systems,” Wright said. “I feel a lot of young parents are struggling by themselves.
“They don’t have anywhere to turn, and it is the chemistry of child abuse.”
Brianna’s story still brings much pain to the people in DoÃ±a Ana County who came together after her death, paid for her casket and burial and claimed her body when no one else would.
“The community felt that Baby Brianna could be their child, their granddaughter, their daughter, their niece,” Las Cruces resident Edgar Lopez said.
Baby Brianna is now locked up in a cage built around her grave by her family to keep the community who loved her so much out. It is a mess, unkempt and full of trash.
“They were asked, and they said they just wanted to be left alone and they wanted Brianna to be left alone,” Martinez said.
Inside is a cherub with a finger raised to her lips. Some believe it’s a message.
“My first thought was, ‘Let’s not talk about what’s occurred here,'” Lopez said.
Yet the community vows to not let that happen. People still leave flowers here and have built another marker.
The people of this community will never forget Brianna and neither will the detectives, social workers and prosecutors who worked on her case.
Wright said they never found pictures of Brianna in her home, not a single image of her playing, laughing or smiling. He wanted to know what she looked like alive.
“Before they started the autopsy
and her little face was lying on a white sheet and I thought she looks asleep,” Wright said. “So I just took the picture.”
The picture has since transformed with the bruises erased and the bite marks taken away. The scars have disappeared.
It’s the Brianna this community likes to remember.
“There’s a photograph of her to carry on of her little life,” Wright said.
The picture hangs on the wall next to Susana Martinez’s desk.
“It’s a reminder, of course, of why we do what we do,” Martinez said. “If you forget you’ll either become calloused or you will become Jell-O.
“You can’t do this job well unless you are in the middle, and that’s just a good reminder why we do it.”
Brianna is never far from the detective either.
“It drives me to work harder to prevent, to be a voice for every child of abuse,” Wright said. “That’s what it does.”
The cop, the prosecutor and the politician agree it’s everyone’s job to report child abuse. Anyone who sees, or even suspects a child is being abused, needs to step in.
The picture that is being referred to is this one:
(These are the slime that did this to this precious child)
Babys autopsy reveals signs of long-term abuse
By Rene Ruelas
The autopsy of 5-month-old Brianna Lopez revealed she had suffered abuse most of her short life in what deputies say is one of the worst cases of child abuse they have ever seen.
Her parents are among those charged with her death.
Brianna was pronounced dead Friday morning at Memorial Medical Center after she was rushed there when attempts to revive her failed, Doa Ana County Sheriffs Sgt. Ed Miranda said.
Friday night, police arrested Briannas parents, Stephanie Lopez, 19, and Andy Walters, 21, and uncle, Steven Lopez, 19. They each are charged with child abuse resulting in death. Walters also was charged with criminal sexual penetration of the baby.
Deputies have now interviewed the six adults and two children who lived in the home with Brianna. Miranda said the family is being cooperative.
The autopsy revealed a long list of injuries that appeared to have been inflicted over an extended period of time upon the little girl who was born on Valentines Day.
On Monday, Miranda detailed the multiple injuries found on the babys body. He said Brianna had 11 human bite marks in varied stages of healing, multiple bruises, fractures to two right ribs, three skull fractures, swelling of the brain and signs of shaken baby syndrome. Brianna also had fractures to both legs, an injury experts say is commonly caused by picking up the child with a quick, jerking motion by the legs.
Investigators will obtain dental impressions to determine who made the bite marks.
In court records, Walters admitted to biting Brianna, but said he “did not take a chunk out of her.” Walters said his 18-month-old son also bit the baby. He said that Stephanie Lopez also bit and pinched her when she became frustrated with Brianna.
According to Miranda, Walters and Steven Lopez were drinking beer Thursday night when they began to toss Brianna into the air, hitting her head on the ceiling and at least twice failing to catch her before she hit the floor.
Stephen Lopez told investigators that he had drunk 10 beers from a case that Walters admitted buying.
Stephanie Lopez said she had about three beers, then fell asleep. The next morning, she told investigators, she found Brianna on the floor and was unable to wake her.
Walters said when Stephanie Lopez asked what happened to Brianna, he told her “we played a little rough with her last night.”
Miranda said additional charges will be filed.
“There are definite signs of neglect and failure to protect,” he said.
The three defendants were arraigned Monday, and bond was set at $250,000 each, Miranda said.
Miranda said it is the worst case of child abuse he has seen in his law enforcement career.
“Brianna has been the most severe,” Miranda said. “This is a difficult case that is complex to work.”
The investigation and what it has revealed has been emotional for the officers working on the case. Miranda said counselors were brought in Monday night to help them deal with the case.
“When you have parents hurting children, you have a lot of emotions,” Miranda said.
Sheriffs records show no child abuse reports made at the home. Miranda said there have been domestic disturbance calls, but none involving children.
The two other children, Briannas 18-month-old brother and 8-year-old uncle, are in protective custody. Miranda said the children have no visible signs of neglect or abuse.
Miranda said while law enforcement, medical personnel and teachers are required to report suspected child abuse, it is the communitys duty to do the same.
Timeline of events according to police documents
Thursday night, July 18th, at 6 p.m., Andy Walters stopped to buy a case of beer, and headed home to 5243 Comanche Trail in Las Cruces.
Three people– Walters, 21, Stephanie Lopez, 19, and her twin brother Steven Lopez, 19, drink through the evening.
Stephanie went to bed after about three beers. According to court documents, Andy Walters and Steven Lopez admitted to playing with Stephanie and Walters’s 5-month old daughter, Brianna.
Police records show that Walters and Lopez threw the child into the air, causing her to hit her head on the ceiling 3 times, then dropped her twice on the floor.
Andy Walters told investigators that Brianna was conscious and crying.
At around 12:30 a.m., Friday morning, Andy Walters fell asleep not knowing where Brianna was.
At three in the morning, Walters says he awoke to find Brianna on the floor near the bed. He said he wrapped her in a blanket and put her in a bouncer.
By 7 a.m., Brianna needed a diaper change. Stephanie Lopez asked about the bruises on Brianna, and according to court documents, Walters admitted that he and Steven Lopez “played a little rough with her”.
Walters changed the diaper and took a baby wipe, wrapped it around his index finger and inserted it into brianna’s anus.
The complaint also states Andy Walters admitted he bit Brianna on several occasions, but he told Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Deputies he is not not the only family member to bite Brianna.
Walters also told authorites that Stephanie Lopez pinched and threw Brianna out of frustration.
The uncle, Steven Lopez, admits to throwing Brianna in the air and not catching her. Steven Lopez claims to have drunk ten beers the previous night.
During his interview with Sheriff’s Deputies, Steven Lopez admitted to having sex with Brianna Lopez. (she was 5 months old!!!) Adding that he, as well as Andy Walters, had penetrated Brianna on several different occasions.
By 10 a.m., July 19th, Stephanie Lopez checks on her daughter, notices Brianna is not breathing, and she calls 9-1-1.
11:10 am, Friday July 19th, five month old Brianna Lopez dies at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces.
Autopsy results show Brianna Lopez had 11 bite marks on her body, broken ribs, skull fractures, bleeding of the optic nerves and brain swelling.
WARNING: Contains graphic and highly disturbing details:
This child abuse story is about a 5-month-old little girl named Brianna Lopez. On July 19, 2002 Baby Brianna passed away. Her father and uncle would toss her in the air and not catch her. They sexually assaulted her. Her uncle raped her. They bit her. Her mother threw her, bit her and pinched her. She was bruised and beaten. Her grandmother and another uncle knew about the abuse but didn’t do anything. Brianna also had several broken bones. She had bleeding from the brain, broken ribs, bucket handle fractures, all signs of shaken baby syndrome. They beat and raped her time and time again. Her mother “fell asleep” while they killed Brianna.
Her mother’s boyfriend, Andy Walters, got 57 years in prison. Her uncle, the mother’s twin brother, Steven Lopez, got 51 years. Her mother, Stephanie Lopez, got 27 years. Her grandmother and other uncle got 60 days in jail. Remember all those who read this, Brianna was beaten and bruised from head to toe and nobody could help her.
Brianna is buried in Albuquerque, New Mexico. When people kept visiting her grave, her family built a metal gate around her grave and locked it shut.
Anyone who reads this, you might become saddened or go in a rage. That baby did nothing to deserve that. This should happen to no child.