QUEENS — The 4-year-old girl who was found dead at a homeless shelter in Briarwood had been beaten to death by her mother for squirting hand cream on the kitchen floor, the Queens District Attorney’s office said.
Latoya Curry, 35, allegedly beat her daughter, Linayjah Meraldo, after the incident at the Briarwood Family Residence this past Wednesday, according to Queens DA.
Curry, who lived in the shelter with her five children, was also charged Friday with assault and endangering the welfare of a child, after the Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the child’s death a homicide, officials said.
Police sources said that the family had a history with the Administration of Children's Services and that in 2011 the children were taken away from the mother for about two years for reasons that were not clear. ACS declined to comment, citing privacy laws.
Curry told investigators she became angry at the girl after she spilled lotion and started beating her, officials said.
According to the criminal complaint, she hit the child in the stomach and in the face, knocking her tooth out.
She also threw the girl against the wall and onto the bed and hit her daughter again in the stomach and the face, court documents said.
Curry told investigators that the girl cried and later complained that her stomach hurt before falling asleep, according to court documents.
The next morning, the girl woke up with a slight fever and stomach pains, according to the criminal complaint.
The mother told investigators that when she checked on her daughter later that morning, she found her unresponsive.
Initially, Curry told police that the previous day Linayjah had a fight with her 5-year-old sister.
The Medical Examiner's office determined that the girl died of blunt force trauma to her torso, officials said.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, an autopsy also showed that the child had a number of internal injuries, including multiple recent and healed rib fractures, internal bleeding, a torn small intestine and extensive bruising. The girl also appeared malnourished, officials said.
“This is a very disturbing case,” said Brown, adding that if convicted, Curry faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
Curry is due back in court on Nov. 10.
The attorney who represented Curry at her arraignment declined to comment, saying he was not sure if he was going to represent her in the future.