San Diego

Alpine Toddler Suffered Severe Brain Bleeding, Broken Bone, Burn Before Death: Autopsy

Leah Brown-Meza died of blunt force trauma, according to the San Diego County Medical Examiner's Office.

Warning: some of the details of this report may be disturbing. 

In the days before her death, an Alpine toddler 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. 

Leah Brown-Meza, 18 months old, died of blunt force trauma, according to the Medical Examiner, in a death the department ruled a homicide. The toddler was found unresponsive at an Alpine home just after noon on December 6, 2016. 

Images: Investigation into Death of Alpine Toddler Leah Brown-Meza

San Diego County Sheriff's Deputies told NBC 7 that the toddler's mother, Lillie Brown reported waking up to find her daughter responsive and called for help.

Lillie Brown, 21, a member of the Viejas tribe, faces three counts of willful cruelty to a child with great bodily injury and/or death. Her boyfriend, Wiliey Kevin Foster, 26, of Alpine, faces charges of murder and assault on a child with force likely to produce great bodily harm or death. He was ordered held on $2 million bail.

Family members exchanged heated words over the death of an 18-month-old baby girl in court. The toddler’s mother and her boyfriend face charges of willful cruelty on a child in connection with her death. NBC 7’s Rory Devine reports.

Deputy District Attorney Chantel de Mauregne described a different scenario at the pair's last court appearance. 

Over the course of four and a half days, Brown-Meza suffered at least three different injuries, the prosecutor argued.

The autopsy report detailed several face and scalp bruises and abrasions and extensive and acute brain bleeding, in multiple parts of her brain.

The toddler also suffered retinal and optic nerve hemorrhages as well as extensive damage to her central nervous system.  The Medical Examiner detailed blunt force trauma injuries to her back and chest, as well as multiple blunt force injuries. 

In addition to head injuries and a second-degree burn on the bottom of her foot, the toddler's upper arm was broken, according to the report. 

Also, the toddler refused to eat or drink in the days leading up to her death, the prosecutor alleged. Investigators estimate the toddler was with her mother from Friday to the day she died.

This video was recorded in the arraignment for Wiliey Foster and Lillie Brown on Thursday, December 15, 2016.

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 Kumeyeey Nation.

Both defendants have entered not guilty pleas to the charges. Foster was ordered held on a $2 million bail.

The toddler was living in a mobile home parked outside a home on Hunter Lane in Alpine. The home belongs to Foster's parents.

Another infant lived in the home, prosecutors said. Foster's biological five-month-old was examined by Child Protective Services and appeared unharmed.

Von Helms was retained by Foster's family. Attorney Kenneth Elliott has been retained to represent Lillie Brown.

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.

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Homicide Detail at (858)974-2321.

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