January 31, 2008 - 3:35PM

VICTORVILLE — A Victorville Superior Court Judge Thursday held a young couple to answer for the torture of a 21-month-old girl.

Vanessa Woods, 22, and Reginald Hardin, 24, of Victorville, both face life in prison for the alleged torture and abuse of Woods’ daughter, Nala Mata.

According to testimony Thursday, the girl suffered second degree burns to her feet, vaginal area and rectum.

Originally Woods had told San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Detectives that the burns on her feet were the result of a bath and that the others were from a diaper rash, according to testimony.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Detective Randy German who had spoken with Pediatrician Amy Young from Loma Linda University Medical Center, said that Young — who examined Mata — believed the burns were from holding the child’s feet together under hot liquid.

Deputy Josh Conley testified that he asked Woods to look at the baby when she was being treated and that “she was unfazed” by the condition of her child.

According to testimony, the folds of the anus were actually burnt off and the burns were consistent with a curling iron.

There was also redness and swelling covering the girls abdomen from blunt force trauma, said German.

As a result of the internal bleeding and swelling, Mata had to undergo surgery where doctors removed nine inches of her intestines that were dead, German said.

“Currently the victim has a colostomy bag,” German said. “They don’t know if that’s going to be permanent.”

Defense Attorney James Terrell argued that the charges should be dropped against Hardin, who had only been dating Woods for a matter of months, and was unaware of the abuse.

“My client acted responsibly, cooperated with police and had nothing to do once so ever with any burns,” said Terrell.

According to testimony, Hardin and Woods drove the girl to the hospital in a car that was later found to be stolen.

“He would never do nothing like that to a kid, I know that 100 percent,” said Darnell Moutire, who said he grew up with Hardin. “I know his character. He loved that kid, he just bought her $500 worth of clothes.”

Torture requires an intent to cause cruel or extreme pain and suffering for revenge, extortion, persuasion, or any sadistic purpose.

“Sadistic comes to mind,” said Superior Court Judge Eric Nakata.

He found sufficient evidence was provided to hold both defendants in custody on the charges. Both Woods and Hardin are charged with torture, felony child abuse, vehicle theft and receiving stolen property.

They both face life in prison if convicted.

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Feb. 1, 2008 at 3:03 PM i cant believe a mother could do something like this to her child and i think that if they get life in prison it is letting them off easy they should have to face the torture that poor defenseless child had to this just broke my heart and descused me at the same time it also scared me for the fact that is happened right here in my town

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Feb. 6, 2008 at 8:45 PM this story truely made me puke. Its sick to thnk that people do these kinds of things everyday and get away with it. i hope and pray nothing like that ever happens to my son because ill be in jail for the rest of my days for murder.... i would kill someone and theres no way id stand back and let it happen. theyd have to kill me to get me to stop fighting.

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