Mom accused of seriously injuring child who eventually died from those injuries

Toni Tavarez, 22, is charged with injury to child.

July 5, 2012 8:13:16 PM PDT
A little girl is dead, and her mother accused of slamming the toddler's head against a dresser. Investigators say they'd been watching the mother for the last few months after allegations of abuse.

Toni Tavarez, 22, mother of four, is accused of abusing her youngest child. Investigators say on June 18, she allegedly hit 19-month-old Yazmin's head against a dresser inside a home. Yazmin was already in critical condition when she was transported to the hospital and died two days later.

Toni Tavarez's stepfather, Paul Maldanado, doesn't believe the charges.

"Do you think she's guilty?" we asked Maldanado.

"No, she would not hurt these kids," he said.

"Is she a good mother?"

"Yes, I raised this girl, since three years old," she said.

But Child Protective Services records paint a different picture. Tavarez, who has four children, was accused of abusing one of her sons in a complaint filed this past March.

"We have received this report in March, and that case was still under investigation when we received the new report on June 18 that the little girl, Yazmin, had been taken to the hospital," CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin said.

CPS is going through its records to see why the children remained with Tavarez after that first complaint. At least one neighbor we talked to say the home where the kids lived worried her.

"There was always a lot of fighting around the house and a lot of cops everywhere, so we tried to keep our distance from them and not associate with people like them," that neighbor told us.

But as Tavarez is charged with felony injury to a child, Maldanado remains staunchly in support of his daughter.

"She's a good woman. She would not hurt those kids, ever," he said.

"So these charges are...," we began to ask.

"They're false. I think they're false," he said.

Tavarez's boyfriend told police that he has witnessed her abusing her children before, court documents state.

CPS says the initial complaint in March only related to the five-year-old brother, not little Yazmin. Its investigation is continuing.

Meanwhile, the surviving three children have been placed with relatives and Maldanado says he's gotten an attorney for Tavarez.


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