HENRY COUNTY, Ga. -- The original call for help said little Laila Marie Daniel had choked. Her family says they were told it was a chicken bone. But the arrest warrants obtained by 11Alive say the 2-year-old foster child was actually denied food while in the care of Jennifer Rosenbaum, a Henry County Commission candidate and her husband.
According to arrest warrants Jennifer Rosenbaum struck Laila so hard in her abdomen that she sustained a transected pancreas. The affidavit reads, "the injury was stated by GBI personnel as being a major contributing factor to the child's death." The child is believed to have entered shock due to the blood loss resulting from that injury.
PHOTOS: Laila Marie Daniel
The affidavit goes on to say the Rosenbaums deprived Laila of "necessary sustenance to the extent that the child's health or well-being was jeopardized, by failing to feed the child in quantities necessary to sustain an adequate body weight." Bruising was also found on the girl's neck, face, abdomen and legs. She also had broken bones in her arms and legs.
"We haven't stopped crying. It's just unbelievable," said Laila's grandmother, Gina Banks, outside the courthouse on Monday.
Banks says she called Laila her "fat baby" but in recent pictures, she could tell she was losing weight.
Joesph Rosenbaum is also accused of abusing Laila and her 4-year old sister, who was also living in the home. The 4-year-old was described as having injuries "about her body in its entirety (head, chest, abdomen, pelvis, back, arms and legs.)" She is believed to have testified to the abuse she and Laila endured.
According to the warrants, she was instructed to tell people she fell, if they asked about her injuries.
"Tessa (the mother) tried to called and have those children removed from the home because she thought it was unsafe. DFCS wasn't listening. They said she was calling too many times," said Banks.
A close family friend says the girls were taken from their mother after she tested positive for drugs and that this was not their first foster home.
Attorney Corinne Mull says the Rosenbaums are being falsely accused.
"These are two very innocent people. Big mistake has been made and we intend to correct that mistake," said Mull after the couple's first court appearance. "They've been in abusive homes serially and there's no telling where they were abused."
On Monday, Jennifer Rosenbaum appeared in court for her first appearance on charges of murder, aggravated assault, two counts of cruelty to children in the first degree (causing excessive physical or mental pain) and second degree cruelty to children. She was denied bond until she can appear before a Superior Court judge. Joseph Rosenbaum is charged with two counts of cruelty to children causing excessive physical or mental pain in first degree. He was granted bond.
The Division of Family and Children Services could not comment on the case or statements made by the family that they had been contacted about their concerns for the girl's safety. But the agency did release this statement:
"The number one priority of the Division of Family and Children Services is the safety of Georgia's children. To that end, each of the Division's policy and procedure is developed with the goal of ensuring children are safe and are with caregivers who will protect them and provide for them.
When the Division must work with the courts to remove a child from a home due to safety concerns, staff first look to relatives and other appropriate caregivers who are close to the family (sometimes called fictive kin) as potential placement resources for a child. Placing a child with relatives or caregivers who are close to the family is widely recognized as a best practice in child welfare that potentially limits trauma for children, because it offers a sense of stability in a turbulent time and allows a child to stay connected to his or her community. All potential placement resources must undergo a vigorous background review.
Because the safety of Georgia's children in the Division's number one priority, the Division seeks to learn from each child death. In the event that a child dies within five years of a prior agency intervention, a special review team conducts an in-depth analysis of agency involvement in the child's life. The purpose of the review is to determine if agency policy and practice sufficiently support staff on the front lines as they make critical determinations that ensure children are safe and with caregivers who will protect them and provide for them. "
READ: Arrest warrants (.pdf)
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