A Henry County grand jury today indicted two foster parents on murder charges in connection with the death of Laila Marie Daniel, a 2-year-old girl in their care.
Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum will face charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery and child cruelty in the Nov. 17 death of Laila, said District Attorney James Wright. Jennifer Rosenbaum had been a candidate for the Henry County Commission.
The formal charges come 10 months after Laila’s death and set the stage for a legal battle that could extend into next year should it come to trial.
The indictment was a surprise in that police had originally charged Joseph Rosenbaum with only child cruelty. These new charges by the grand jury represent a significant escalation in the case against him.
Wright said the charges changed after the completion of the autopsy on the child, which revealed a history of injuries going back more than a month before her death. He declined to discuss the case further.
Authorities had originally said they believed Jennifer Rosenbaum killed Laila Marie Daniel on Nov. 17 by striking the toddler in the abdomen with such force that the child’s pancreas was split. Laila went into shock because of blood loss resulting from the injury, according to the autopsy.
Corinne Mull, Rosenbaum’s attorney, has said Laila’s death was likely a tragic accident. Mull said the girl died after Rosenbaum performed the Heimlich maneuver and CPR when the child was choking on some chicken. Mull said the force of the compressions may have injured the child.
The new charges may throw that scenario in question.
Laila had only been living with the Rosenbaums for four months when the incident occurred that caused her death.
There were indications that Laila was abused over time with the Rosenbaums, authorities said. The warrant noted that Laila was “injured about her body in its entirety.”
The GBI had briefed the state child protection agency on the preliminary results of the autopsy. “Laila had severe abdominal trauma over time, since being placed with the Rosenbaums,” said a summary by the state Division of Family and Children Services of that briefing.