Whitman woman appears in court on charges in connection to death of 2-year-old daughter

BROCKTON, MASS. (WHDH) - A Whitman woman who pleaded not guilty to a criminal charge Thursday in connection with the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Lyric, appeared in Brockton District Court for the second day in a row —  listening as prosecutors detailed the events leading up to her daughter’s death.

Shaniqua Leonard, 29, was arrested in Boston in connection with the Dec. 28 death of Lyric, who was found unresponsive at 863 Washington St. and later died at Boston Children’s Hospital, officials said.

“The young girl, your honor, was in cardiac arrest. She did not have a pulse. The emergency responders, Whitman police were first on the scene, immediately began CPR,” Prosecutor Jessica Kenny said. “There was bleeding and swelling within her brain as well as bleeding within the optic nerve — which the medical examiner indicated would be indicative of non-accidental trauma.”

Prosecutors say Leonard has six other children ranging in age from 12 years old to a set of 1-year-old twins.

The Department of Children and Families took custody of all six children back in 2017.

But, by last month, Leonard’s children had been returned to her.

Lyric’s father, who is also facing charges for violating a restraining order, sat in court to watch the proceedings Friday.

During the investigation into the toddler’s death, officials allegedly uncovered several videos on Leonard’s phone that show the girl staring off into the distance, unable to stand or maintain her balance, and hitting her head as she falls to the ground. Court documents claim Leonard can be heard laughing at her daughter in the recordings.

Prosecutors claim the videos show that Lyric was clearly in medical distress and allege Leonard’s “failure to adequately care for and seek medical attention for Lyric Farrell caused her medical condition to deteriorate and ultimately led to her death.”

“In these videos, the child is at some times, completely incapacitated,” Kenny told the court. “She can’t hold her own head up. Mother in one of the videos is yelling at the child to pick her head up, to sit up.”

Leonard’s attorney, Michael Tumposky said he is hopeful his client will be released from custody soon.

“We’re hopeful on Monday that the judge will allow her to be released so that she can attend her child’s funeral,” he said.

For now, Leonard is being held without bail.

She is due back in court on Monday for a dangerousness hearing.

It is then that prosecutors say more significant changes may be leveled against her.

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