Mother, fiancé charged in death of 11-year-old autistic child, caused abdomen to split
NORFOLK, Va. (WSET)-- Officials said a woman charged with the murder of her 11-year-old daughter is denied bond.
WTKR reports Norfolk Police found 11-year-old Heaven Watkins dead inside a home in Norfolk.
According to relatives, Heaven had autism and cerebral palsy.
Heaven's mother, Latoya Smith, and her fiancé, Demont Harris, were both charged with second-degree murder.
The Medical Examiner revealed that Heaven's cause of death has been ruled as blunt force trauma to the head and torso. They also said the manner of death was homicide.
The Medical Examiner's reports presented in court Friday showed a head injury and brain bleeding, as well as abdominal injuries.
The reports suggest the child was hit so hard in the abdomen that her abdomen split open a few days before she was found dead.
In addition, the Medical Examiner report showed 12 to 13 old rib fractures, as well as two to three new fractures that were sustained a few days before Heaven was found dead.
According to officials, the mother allegedly admitted to “punishing “Heaven for bringing a toy into the bathtub.
Smith also admitted to only feeding her bread and water a few days before she was found dead.
Officials in court said Smith and her fiance were previously charged when Harris burned Heaven's skin by putting her hand under hot water.
Heaven was hospitalized or six days and had to get a skin graft as a result.
The defense attempted to argue Smith is also a victim of abuse in the home.
However, it was argued that Smith watched the abuse happen without calling for help from a domestically violent situation.
It was also confirmed that Smith's only son is still living in Minnesota with a relative because he did not want to move to Hampton Roads.
Previously, Child Protective Services removed Smith's other two daughters, ages six and eight. There is an ongoing investigation regarding them as well.
The defense argued that Harris is the main aggressor. Smith has no criminal record.
The defense also attempted to argue that if released on bond, Smith could work as a housekeeper and would not have any contact with her other children.
That request was denied.
The family has only been in Hampton Roads for nine months and Harris is originally from the area, but Smith is from Minnesota.