Houston mom accused of covering up daughter's death appears in court

July 1, 2013 4:27:32 PM PDT
A mother is in jail after investigators say her three-year-old daughter died, and she threw the little girl's body out in the trash. The little girl had been returned to her mother, after being taken away by authorities. Police believe she'd been dead for a year before investigators realized she was gone. New details are coming out about what may have happened.

That mother made an appearance in court Monday, where prosecutors laid out their case against her. But we are getting more and more questions about Child Protective Services, who had the children in state care until 2011. Even the foster mother is asking if this all could have been prevented.

Clad in an orange jail uniform, Sabrina Deleon, 26, didn't say much during her court appearance Monday morning. But prosecutors laid out the reason behind the charges against her -- that when her three-year-old daughter Lee'ona Ramirez got sick, she allegedly didn't get help.

"The defendant did give a statement that the child had a seizure and was running a fever, and she did not call 911 or seek medical attention," explained assistant district attorney Maritza Atun. "That is an omission and so it is a first degree felony."

Instead, prosecutors say, Deleon allegedly wrapped the girl in a blanket and allegedly put in her the trash bin.

Over the weekend, the foster mother who cared for Lee'ona and her older sister up until 2011 said it didn't have to happen, because she didn't want the two girls returned to their mother.

"I knew that it would just be a matter of time before they were taken into the system, because they weren't ready to go when they left," said former foster mother Kischa Hernandez. "We knew that it wasn't right, and we tried to stop it, but we couldn't."

CPS says records show the foster mother made her concerns known, even in court. But CPS says it was the court that ruled in favor of Deleon.

"It was noted in court," CPS spokesperson Gwen Carter said. "I believe they hired their own legal representation, and all of that information was presented to the court and the decision was made that the children needed to be returned home to their mother."

Now it's 2013 and the older daughter is once again in state care, while prosecutors are presuming little Lee'ona is dead.

Atun said, "We still don't know about the whereabouts of the missing child."

CPS said the case was closed in 2011. They explained that once a case is closed, unless another complaint is brought forward and a new case opened, they can't simply revisit the previous case. Unfortunately nothing additional was brought up in 2012, and now the charges are pending against Deleon.

Deleon is charged with injury to a child by omission and tampering with evidence. Her bond is set at $150,000. Her six-year-old daughter is in CPS custody.

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