Woman charged with murder of toddler

April 2, 2009 1:22:00 PM PDT
Charges against a Livermore woman accused of severely abusing a toddler under her care who later died have been upgraded to murder, a prosecutor said today.

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Mary Downing, 54, was arraigned on the murder charge Wednesday afternoon in Alameda County Superior Court, Assistant District Attorney Jon Goodfellow said.

Downing had previously been charged with the attempted murder of 23-month-old Heaven Hernandez, who was the granddaughter of Downing's fiance.

Downing called 911 about 12:40 a.m. on March 21 to report that Heaven was unresponsive. Police arrived at the home at 2142 Percheron Road and found that Heaven had suffered injuries consistent with severe physical abuse, Livermore police Lt. Matt Sarsfield said.

The child was taken to Children's Hospital in Oakland, where she was declared brain dead on March 23. Heaven died March 25 after being removed from life support.

Goodfellow said Downing is also charged with assaulting a child under the age of 8 causing great bodily injury resulting in death.

Downing is being held without bail at the Santa Rita Jail in Dublin and is scheduled to return to court April 22.

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