A Tucson man accused of beating a 2-year-old girl so severely her spleen became detached has been indicted on attempted second-degree murder and child-abuse charges. The child's mother was indicted on a child-abuse charge alleging she failed to seek prompt medical care for the child.
Oscar Omar Aguirre, 29, and Ashlee Nichole Liberty, 25, will be arraigned Friday in Pima County Superior Court.
On Jan. 14, Aguirre called 911 because Liberty's daughter was having difficulty breathing. The child was taken to Tucson Medical Center with bruises all over her body, and doctors determined she had a punctured lung, four broken ribs and injuries to her spleen and kidney, court documents say.
Exploratory surgery performed two days later revealed the spleen was detached and free-floating, her pancreas and bowels were bruised and she had tears in her liver, abdominal wall and transverse colon, the documents state.
A TMC doctor told detectives he believed the injuries were from blunt force trauma and non-accidental. The only other way the girl could have received the injuries is if she was in a traffic crash or flew off a bicycle going at a high rate of speed, court documents state.
Liberty told police her daughter was vomiting when she went to work on Jan. 13, leaving Aguirre to care for the girl and her 7-year-old sister and Aguirre's four children - ages 4 through 11.
When she got home, Liberty said, she saw bruises on the preschooler's forehead. She told police the girl had fallen on some rocks, and Aguirre told her she had also fallen on the shower door rack during a shower.
The little girl continued to vomit through the night and following morning, Liberty told police. She was at work when Aguirre called her between 3 and 4 p.m. Jan. 14 to tell her he'd called 911.
"Ashlee could not explain the extensive bruises and injuries on (the girl) and said she did not cause those, but did not think Oscar caused them either," court documents state.
Aguirre told detectives the girl had spent the past week with her maternal grandmother, but he hadn't seen any bruises when he picked her up Jan. 12.
The grandmother told detectives the 2-year-old had what appeared to be a bite mark on her face when Aguirre dropped her off Jan. 6 and the child told her Aguirre had bitten her, the documents say.
The grandmother also said the girl didn't want to leave with Aguirre on Jan. 12, and she'd called the Pima County Sheriff's Department three times in the past to report suspected abuse. Her daughter blamed past bruises on rough-housing with the other children, the grandmother told detectives.
Deputy Dawn Barkman could not confirm the department received the complaints without specific dates. However, state Child Protective Services officials said they had three open cases at the time the child was hospitalized.
According to CPS, the agency received calls on Nov. 22, Nov. 29, and Dec. 7. The caller or callers told caseworkers the girl had a bruise from her shoulder to her waist on Nov. 22, a swollen lip and injured eye on Nov. 29 and abdominal and forehead bruises on Dec. 7. The girl's tongue was also swollen and infected on Dec. 7. Whoever filed the report on Nov. 29 told CPS the girl told them Aguirre had hit her in the face.
CPS officials said they were in the process of referring Liberty for services when the girl was hospitalized.
Aguirre remains in the Pima County jail on $100,000 bail. Liberty is no longer in custody.
The 2-year-old and 7-year-old have been placed in foster care by CPS.
Reporter Veronica M. Cruz contributed to this story. Contact reporter Kim Smith at 573-4241 or firstname.lastname@example.org