Charges against father upgraded to murder in death of 2-year-old

Baby girl was beaten, burned, dehydrated and more, investigators say

Charges were upgraded to murder Friday against a Coweta County father who called 911 to report his 2-year-old daughter was unresponsive.

“We woke up and she’s barely breathing,” Daniel Lee said during the Nov. 4 call. “She’s like really white. Please hurry!”

Little Aleigha Lee was taken to Piedmont Newnan Hospital, where she died. It was there that investigators saw the child’s injuries, which covered most of her body and included a severely burned leg.

» RELATED: Dead toddler's injuries too extensive to be accident, investigators say

Later that night, both of the toddler’s parents were arrested. Elizabeth Lee, 29, was charged with felony murder and aggravated battery, and her husband Daniel Lee, 28, was charged with child cruelty in the second degree.

Friday in a Coweta courtroom, a prosecutor said Daniel Lee’s charges should also include second-degree murder because he did nothing to help Aleigha, Channel 2 Action News reported. The judge agreed.

According to the initial arrest warrants against the Lees, Aleigha had extensive injuries.

Aleigha Lee, 2, was found unresponsive in her Coweta County home early Sunday. She was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

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“It was very apparent that (the child) endured different injuries from her head to her toes. Her exposed body revealed bruises in different shapes, sizes and stages beginning from her head to her face, ribs, back, buttocks, arms, legs, feet and toes,” the warrants state. “… There were other injuries which again were unusual marks on her face, ears, chest and back.”

An autopsy conducted by the GBI uncovered additional injuries, according to investigators. Aleigha’s body showed evidence of blunt force trauma to both the abdomen, resulting in a lacerated liver, and her mouth, the arrest warrants state. Her brain was swollen, she was dehydrated and had an internal vaginal laceration, the autopsy showed. The child also had handprints on her buttocks and rear back.

After Aleigha’s death, the couple’s other five children were placed in protective custody. For the first year of Aleigha’s life, she also lived with foster parents while Daniel and Elizabeth Lee completed a family court program.

In 2016, the Lees temporarily lost custody of their children because they were addicted to methamphetamine and living in a van. The couple enrolled in the court program, and once it was completed, the family was reunited in August 2017.