Parents charged with murdering their daughter taunted her with food for over a year

The child was found 'extremely malnourished' with injuries all over her body

Clark Mindock
New York
Thursday 13 July 2017 16:25 BST
The parents could face the death penalty should they be convicted
The parents could face the death penalty should they be convicted (Weber County Sheriff Department)

Parents in Utah have been charged with the murder of their three-year-old daughter after over a year of taunting the child with food.

Cellphone video taken by the parents shows Brenda Emile, 22, and Miller Costello, 25, offering their malnourished food before snatching it away to discipline her. A progression of the videos shows the toddler’s physical condition getting worse over about a year and a half, local media reports.

Her “extremely malnourished” body was found at the family’s home after the parents called the police to report that she wasn’t breathing.

Police said that the girl was covered in wounds — burns, cuts, and bruises — and that the injuries were in various levels of healing. Some appeared to be fresh. Others were much older, they said.

The cell phones of the parents showed that they had abused the girl between January 2016 and June 2017, and the girl was visibly upset in the videos. One showed the father smacking her in the face with an infant’s foot.

Mr Costello acknowledged to police that he knew that the child was in danger of dying if he didn’t bring her to get help, but that he did not go to a doctor. He indicated that Ms Emile had told her that the child’s siblings had injured her, but that she was fearful of bringing her to the doctor for fear of a police investigation, and losing her children.

Two other children were taken away from the house to be put in state child protective services.

Prosecutors have charged the parents with aggravated murder, which could lead to the death penalty if they are convicted.

The Utah prosecutors are asking that the parents be held without bail, noting that they have ties in several other states and that Mr Costello frequently travels for his job as a scrap metal dealer.

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