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19-Month-Old Toddler Left Alone for More Than 24 Hours Dies of Dehydration, Neglect

Source: mega

Jul. 1 2023, Published 1:00 p.m. ET

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James Kasisky, 26, and Valentina-Varela Luis, 25, appeared in court on Friday, June 30, to face charges related to the death of their 19-month-old daughter, Phoenix, who was found dead in their Pennsylvania home on December 23, 2020, has learned.

The couple is being charged with involuntary manslaughter, endangering the welfare of a child, and reckless endangerment.

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Source: mega

Emergency medical personnel who arrived at the scene discovered the lifeless toddler in a bedroom, with rigor mortis already setting in. The child had sunken eyes and fingertips with no coloration. It was determined that Kasisky and Luis had not checked on their daughter in over 24 hours.

The Luzerne County Coroner's Office found the baby's stomach empty, except for a small amount of fluid, and ruled the cause of death as homicide due to dehydration and metabolic imbalance caused by neglect.

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The mother's attorney, Joseph G. Albert, said his client told authorities she was hesitant to leave Kasisky in charge of the children while she was at work. Luis also claimed she attempted several times to call Kasisky while she was at work to check on the children but could not get through.

When Luis arrived home sometime between 4:30 and 5 p.m., December 23, she claimed Kasisky told her the children were "okay," as she never checked on the children until after 7 p.m. when she found the toddler unresponsive.

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Assistant Luzerne County District Attorney Shana Messinger described the case as "horrific" and "nightmarish for any parent with children."

She stated, "The affidavit speaks for itself. Our extensive investigation, involving forensic and medical teams, found the baby was unattended for a period of greater than 24 hours, and we proceeded with the charges. I think the message is you got to watch your child every step of the way."

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During the preliminary hearing on Friday, three witnesses provided testimonies about the condition in which the baby was found and the state of her room. The witnesses described the room as hot and dry, with the child wearing long sleeves and having mats in her hair. They also noted the absence of any baby monitors in the house.

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