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Couple To Be Tried In Death Mother, Boyfriend Accused In Killing Of 2-Year-Old Girl

Sat., Oct. 14, 1995

If Christina Campanelli’s mother did not abuse her 2-year-old daughter, it at least appears she failed in her duty to protect the toddler from harm, a judge said Friday.

So he ordered Eileen Campanelli and her boyfriend, Rick Cortez, to stand trial on charges of injury to a child. They face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

“It appears Ms. Campanelli allowed a situation to occur in her home … that put Christina in grave danger,” Judge Barry Watson said at the couple’s preliminary hearing Friday.

Christina died Sept. 24 from severe head injuries.

Cortez and Campanelli brought the unconscious girl to the hospital Sept. 20. Cortez told varying stories about how the toddler got hurt. He said she had fallen off a couch or hit her head on a railroad tie.

“Any insinuation that this child got these injuries from a fall is offensive,” Judge Watson said. “The bruises about the buttocks, the legs, around the back, on the face are simply not explainable by the child falling down.”

But Joel Ryan, Campanelli’s defense attorney, argued that authorities cannot show exactly when the child was hurt or who hurt the child.

“When a 2-year-old is killed, we want to charge every adult in the home and let God sort them out,” said Tim Gresback, Cortez’s attorney.

Gresback argued that no one ever saw his client hurt the toddler. And he pointed out that it was the mother who had admitted hitting her older daughter, Maria.

However, “the child was only in the presence of these two adults,” said prosecutor Lansing Haynes.

A person can be guilty of injury to a child even if he or she didn’t physically harm the child, Watson said.

Earlier this summer, Campanelli took her daughter to a doctor because the child had so many bruises.

The judge said not protecting the child from an abuser was “akin to allowing a vicious animal in the home and allowing that child to be unsupervised with that animal.”

, DataTimes

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