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Laila Daniel

Foster parents left ‘loop shaped bruising’ and fist marks on tot girl, who died after months of abuse, doctor testifies

A doctor who testified Friday during the trial against two Georgia foster parents accused of killing a little girl, said the child had significant injuries when she died, consistent with abuse.

Laila Marie Daniel died a few months after her second birthday, while in the care of her foster parents, Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum. Both are currently on trial in Henry County, facing murder charges.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Laila was in the Rosenbaum’s care for four months when Jennifer Rosenbaum called 911, claiming that the little girl was choking on food. Yet, experts said that the little girl’s injuries were not consistent with choking. An autopsy revealed Laila had broken bones and internal injuries, including a separated pancreas.

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At the time, the couple’s defense attorney, Corrine Mull, said that the toddler’s pancreas could have been injured during attempts to revive her. When questioned about other injuries, Mull said that it could have happened while in the care of others. Since birth, Laila lived with numerous family members, as well as in several foster homes.

On Friday, Dr. Stephen Messner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta took the stand and testified that Laila’s injuries were consistent with physical abuse. According to Messner, Laila had loop-shaped bruising on her body that appeared as if she had been hit with a belt or cord.

She also had marks consistent with being punched by someone’s fist, the doctor said.

Further, the doctor testified that Laila had burns across her stomach that appeared to be healing, and bruises of on her inner thigh and genitals. One of her ears had half of the skin missing, but it didn’t happen accidentally, Messner said.

On the day she died, paramedics who arrived to scene noted that the girl had bruising all over her body.

Laila’s older sister Millie also lived with the defendants. She, too, showed physical injuries consistent with being abused. Millie, 4 at the time, was removed from the home after Laila’s death and currently lives with new foster parents.

“All (Laila) did was cry because she didn’t know how to speak,” Millie told authorities after the incident.

Red Flags

A 2016 investigative report by AJC indicated that the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) didn’t follow up on red flags in the case, which likely could have saved Laila’s life.

On July 24, 2015, Laila moved in with the Rosenbaum couple after her birth mother was arrested for drug use. DFCS ran criminal background checks on the pair and evaluated their home before determining they were a good fit.

“The Rosenbaums are stable and reliable. They also appear to greatly love children,” a note in the child’s DCF file read.

By October 2015, however, problems began to surface when Laila broke her leg. Jennifer Rosenbaum, who was once a foster child herself, claimed it happened accidentally at gymnastics. A case worker visited Laila, and after she determined that the toddler was doing OK, didn’t investigate further.

“She is doing fine by her attitude you would never know anything was wrong,” Rosenbaum said in a text message to the social worker. “Laughing playing singing and hasn’t cried once not even when it happened.”

Less than a month later, on November 17, Laila died.

Murder Charges

In December 2015, the suspects were arrested for child cruelty and murder.

Jennifer Rosenaum’s arrest warrant read that she kicked Laila “with such force the child’s pancreas was transected. The child was believed to enter shock due to the blood loss resulting from the injury.”

After the child’s death, DFCS looked further into the supposed gymnastics incident. Staff at the gymnastics center said that Laila was never a member there. Millie was enrolled, but Laila was a spectator only and always sat on the side, watching her sister.

The trial is expected to last another week.

Jennifer Rosenbaum is facing numerous charges, including malice and felony murder, child cruelty, assault, and battery. Joseph Rosenbaum is facing a second-degree murder charge for leaving the child in his co-defendant’s care while allegedly knowing she abused the child.

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[Feature Photo: Laila Daniel/ Family Handout]