San Diego

Mom's Boyfriend Was Last Person to See Toddler Alive: Detective

"He yelled at me and told me that he had bigger, more important things going on at the time other than this dead baby that was in the motorhome," the detective testified

An Alpine man accused in the death of his girlfriend's daughter was the last person to see the toddler alive, a homicide detective testified in court Tuesday.

Wiliey Foster showed little emotion as witnesses were called to describe the death of Leah Brown-Meza.

In the days before her death, the 18-month-old girl suffered severe and extensive brain bleeding, a broken arm and a burn to the bottom of her foot, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's autopsy report. 

Her body was discovered inside a motorhome parked outside of a home on Hunter Lane on Dec. 6, 2016.

The night before the toddler's body was discovered, Foster told his girlfriend, Lillie Brown, he had put her daughter to bed in the motorhome and then spent some time playing video games in the main house, according to San Diego County Sheriff's Department homicide investigator Deputy Brian Patterson.

He said the girls' mother walked by the toddler who was sleeping in a makeshift bed on the floor in order to go to bed but did not check on the girl.

Leah's mother awakened at about 11:30 a.m., pulled the blanket off the toddler and noticed she was blue and cold, according to investigators. 

The defendant called his mother and asked what to do and they were told to call 911. 

Family members in the courtroom wept openly when one first responder testified of how he found the toddler. 

“I walked in, looked to the left and I saw our patient on the floor, on the cushions," Alpine Fire Protection District Firefighter Colby Ross testified.

Ross said he saw dried blood around the toddler's mouth and noted she was not moving when he picked her up.

The child's mother Lillie Brown, a member of the Viejas tribe, was originally charged with three counts of willful cruelty to a child with great bodily injury and/or death.

Patterson testified that Brown told investigators she never hurt her baby and she was not present when her daughter was abused. 

Foster, Brown's boyfriend, faces charges of murder and assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily harm or death.

Foster told investigators he put Leah to bed at 9:30 p.m. and checked on her the next morning at 6 a.m. and the child was fine, Patterson testified.

Prosecutors said blood stains were found on a tank top and shorts owned by Foster and were shown to match the victim. 

When Foster was informed investigators would need to process his clothes, Foster became upset. 

"He became very agitated. He was upset. He was yelling at us that we had been in the house all day. He didn't like the idea of us being in the house and was tired of it," Patterson said. 

When the detective explained he needed answers about the dead baby in the motorhome, Foster snapped at him. 

"He yelled at me and told me that he had bigger, more important things going on at the time other than this dead baby that was in the motorhome," the detective testified.

Both defendants have entered not guilty pleas to the charges.

Defense attorney Jan Ronis questioned the homicide investigator about the mother possibly implicating the defendant in exchange for a lesser charge.

The child's biological father, a member of the Jamul Indian Village, shared joint custody with Brown. Leah was the great-granddaughter of the man who led the tribe over three decades and helped establish it as a band in the Kumeyaay Nation.

Leah's paternal great-grandfather, Kenneth Meza, is currently the Vice Chair for the Jamul Indian Village, one of 13 bands of the Kumeyaay Nation. He served as Chair of the tribe for more than 30 years and was instrumental in getting the band recognized by the federal government.

At the end of the hearing, the judge will decide if there's enough evidence for the 26-year old Foster to stand trial. 

He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. 

Brown faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of felony child endangerment.

Contact Us