CNS - A woman, her live-in girlfriend and a babysitter pleaded not guilty June 25, to charges of abusing the woman’s 5-year-old son, who suffered injuries that one law enforcement veteran described as the worst he had seen in a 27-year career. Starkeisha Brown, 24, Krystal Denise Matthews, 21, and La Tanya Monikue Jones, 26, are charged with one count each of child abuse, corporal injury to a child and dissuading a witness, and two counts each of conspiracy. Brown and Matthews are also charged with one count each of torture.
The three made their first appearances last week in Compton Superior Court in connection with the charges, and have remained jailed since then. Brown and Matthews — who shared an apartment in South Los Angeles—allegedly beat Brown’s son repeatedly, burned his genitals and other parts of his body with cigarettes and left him to sit in his own urine. The boy was also suspended from a door with his hands above his head and beaten and was regularly forced to put both his hands on a hot stove, causing burn injuries so severe that he may never be able to fully open them, said Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief James McDonnell.
“In my time in policing, 27 years, I have never seen anybody with these kinds of injuries that has lived,” he told reporters earlier this month.
Prosecutors allege that Jones burned the boy’s hand over a stove while she was babysitting, and that she allowed her young son and daughter to go with Brown and Matthews to the Department of Children and Family Services to hide the alleged abuse. The women allegedly tried to pass off Jones’ 4-year-old son as Brown’s son when she and Matthews were summoned June 9 to the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, which was acting on an anonymous tip, to discuss allegations that the 5-year-old was being abused. The women, who had also brought along a girl of about 6, believed to be Jones’ daughter, allegedly fled after being pressed about the boy’s identity.
About the same time, police also got involved. A stranger who said he had been told to watch the 5-year-old boy asked neighbors what to do with the child, who appeared ill, and someone called the LAPD. The boy, who was allegedly mistreated over a period of about two years, remains hospitalized after suffering kidney failure due to malnutrition, according to Deputy District Attorney Patricia Horikawa. The three women are due back in court July 22, with a date scheduled to be set then for a hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to require them to stand trial.