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3-Year-Old NW Side Girl Killed Was Missing Teeth: Prosecutors

By  Erica Demarest and Erin Meyer | May 21, 2014 5:58am | Updated on May 21, 2014 1:39pm

 Maria Espinoza-Perez, 24, is charged with killing her 3-year-old daughter, Ashley Mendoza.
Maria Espinoza-Perez, 24, is charged with killing her 3-year-old daughter, Ashley Mendoza.
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Chicago Police Department

COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURT — A 3-year-old girl found dead in her Dunning home Sunday night showed signs of trauma, including missing teeth, when authorities discovered her, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The girl's mother, 24-year-old Maria Espinoza-Perez, allegedly told the girl's father and police that two men with guns broke into her house and killed her daughter.

But, doubting her story, authorities searched the house and found suspect blood splatter on the girl's Teddy bear, Assistant State's Attorney Robert Mack said. 

Espinoza-Perez, of the 3300 block of North Natchez Avenue, is charged was first-degree murder in what prosecutors described as a "heinous" crime Wednesday.

Paramedics found 3-year-old Ashley Mendoza unresponsive on the kitchen floor, Mack said.

Ashley was missing teeth and had visible injuries to her forehead, bruising on her hands and legs, scrapes and cuts on her neck, Mack said. But there was no blood on the child or anywhere near her. And, police found no evidence of forced entry to the home.

They searched the home of Espinoza-Perez and found blood splatter in the bathroom, on a vanity and shower curtain, and in the girl's room, on her crib frame, a Teddy bear, a blanket and a mattress. 

The mother later admitted to causing "some" of the girl's injuries, cleaning up the blood and making up the story about the home invasion, prosecutors said.

An autopsy Monday revealed Ashley died from child abuse. Shortly after the girl's death, DCFS launched an investigation into her mother.

In court, her defense attorney said Espinoza-Perez came from Mexico about five years ago and is a stay-at-home mom.

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