Laila Marie Daniel, only 2 years old, died Nov. 17, 2015. Her foster mother and father, Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum, are charged in her death.
Photo: HANDOUT
Photo: HANDOUT

Foster parents trial: Child abuse doctor says girls’ injuries prove physical abuse

Injuries to a 2-year-old who died in 2015 while in foster care weren’t accidental, a pediatrician who specializes in child abuse testified Friday afternoon. 

“The overall picture is physical abuse,” Dr. Stephen Messner with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta said. 

Laila Marie Daniel would have turned 6 last week, but lived just a few months after turning 2. Her former foster parents, Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum, are on trial in Henry County. She faces charges of malice and felony murder, child cruelty, aggravated assault and aggravated battery. He is charged with second-degree murder, accused of leaving Laila in his wife’s care when he allegedly knew she was abusing the child. The trial resumed Monday morning. 

Laila’s body was extensively bruised and showed internal injuries, investigators found. Messner told jurors the toddler had loop-shaped bruising, typical from being struck by a belt or cord, as well as round bruises, indicative of being struck with a fist. 

7/11/2019 -- McDonough, Georgia -- Jennifer Rosenbaum (center) speaks with her attorney, Corinne Mull (right), during her and her husband's trial in front of Henry County Judge Brian Amero at the Henry County Superior courthouse, Thursday, July 11, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Laila’s sister Millie, then 4, also had injuries consistent with abuse, including thinning hair around her ears, Messner said. Millie now lives with other foster parents.

Friday marked the end of the second week of the Rosenbaums’ trial. Witnesses have included medical professionals, social services employees and detectives. The trial is expected to last through this week. 

Jurors on Friday saw pictures of Laila and Millie, showing various injuries. Laila had a suspected burn across her stomach that was healing, as well as bruising on her genitalia and inner thigh. More than half of her skin was missing on one of the ears, Messner testified. The injuries were likely not the results of accidental falls or from CPR or the Heimlich Maneuver, he added.

Also Friday, jurors heard an interview detectives had with Millie after Laila’s death. Millie told detectives she and her sister were spanked. 

“All (Laila) did was cry because she didn’t know how to speak,” Millie, told detectives at the time. 

Earlier this week, a doctor testified that one month before she died, Laila showed up a pediatric orthopedist’s office with a broken leg. 

Dr. Shawn Duxbury told jurors that he’d urged Jennifer Rosenbaum to get Laila to an emergency room right away. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston physicians were ready to treat Laila, Duxbury said. But Jennifer Rosenbaum never took Laila to them, he said.

“If your child has a broken leg or injury, isn’t using the leg, you would expect you would take them to a provider quickly,” Duxbury testified.

RELATED: The short and tragic life of Laila Daniel

ALSO: Newton County parents guilty in 2-week-old’s death

Jennifer Rosenbaum dialed 911 on Nov. 17, 2015, saying Laila was choking on a chicken nugget, then said she attempted CPR and the Heimlich Maneuver. 

Responding paramedics noticed Laila was bruised from head to toe. Medical staff members at Piedmont Henry Hospital saw the injuries and called police. 

An autopsy showed no evidence that Laila had choked, but did reveal she had suffered a blow to her abdomen that ruptured her pancreas. Laila’s remains showed internal injuries and broken bones she suffered over time, according to Georgia Bureau of Investigation medical examiners. 

The Rosenbaums were arrested and charged two weeks after Laila died.

Police say Laila Daniel died in 2015 while in the care of her foster parents, Jennifer and Joseph Rosenbaum, at their Henry County home.

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