LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) - Brianna Lopez would be 6 years old now had her death at 6 months of age in 2002 not revealed perhaps the most brutal child-abuse case in state history and prompted a major change in New Mexico law.
But as the July 19 anniversary of her death nears, some say the changes have not gone far enough.
The story of Baby Brianna is a hard one, but it is the ugly reality of child abuse. Violent family members caused her death while others hid what they knew was going on.
"They raped her; they beat her," said District Attorney Susana Martinez who prosecuted the case. "She had bite marks on her face, cheek, head, arms, legs, chest, torso, everywhere.
"Literally bruised from head to toe, from the top of her head all throughout her body all the way to the big toe on her right foot."
She was beaten and raped by her own family.
"Massive bruising on the head, and then her little fingers were lacerated, toes," said Detective Lindell Wright who was the first officer on the scene.
Brianna died on July 19, 2002. When Wright saw her body at a hospital, he remembers one thought going through his mind: "I've got a lot to do."
Later, when he had time to look back, "I cried my eyes out. It will stay with me for the rest of my life."
Investigators said Brianna's mother and father, Stephanie Lopez and Andy Walters, and her uncle Steven Lopez were responsible.
The night before, Steven and Andy threw Brianna to the ceiling, then let her slam to the ground. And they had raped her time and time again.
Brianna's mother had bitten her child. The source of the other bruises remains a mystery.
"Bite marks throughout her body; there were old and new," Wright said. "She had skull fractures that were old and new.
"She had bleeding on the brain both old and new which means she had been abused physically her entire life."
Answer by GothicChk52 at 9:23 PM on Apr. 10, 2011
Sadly, this is similar to a story that occurred not too far away from where I live in 1996. In that story, the baby boy was 16 months old and the neighbors had reported the family to CPS before the child was finally killed by the people who were raping and beating him. CPS never went to investigate. They just called and the parents denied anything was going one. Soon after that the child was dead.
It's so sad that people do this to babies, but it's even sadder when the system that is supposed to protect them fails.
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