Citrus toddler died of blunt force trauma; mother arrested - FOX 13 News

Citrus toddler died of blunt force trauma; mother arrested

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Not once but twice, the Florida Department of Children and Families say they investigated possible abuse cases regarding 2-year-old Aliyah Branum -- once in August of 2012, and again in January.

Both times, investigators noted no obvious signs of abuse, DCF said in a media release Thursday.

Now, the Citrus County toddler is dead from violence at the hands of her mother, Sheriff Jeff Dawsy said in a press conference Thursday.

Aliyah Marie Branum was "brutally murdered," Dawsy added, saying it was not a case of a parent "just snapping."

Dawsy outlined the disturbing details of the toddler's death, calling them nauseating before he spelled them out.

He said Aliyah's mother shook her on multiple occasions, slammed her head into wall and head-butted her into unconsciousness.

Aliyah Branum was pronounced dead at the hospital on Friday; the medical examiner said her death was a homicide from blunt force trauma.

Detectives who interviewed Huggett said she confessed, and admitted to shaking and hitting her child on other occasions.

"She was asked several times what she would tell Aliyah if she could. She apologized for killing her," said detective Craig Fass.

Huggett is now charged with murder and aggravated child abuse.

The Florida Department of Children and Families said Huggett had been under investigation twice before: once in January of this year, and once in August of 2012. Investigators said there were concerns about living conditions, but no signs of abuse or neglect.

Sheriff Dawsy added that Huggett is currently eight months pregnant with her second child.

In a media release, DCF said investigators would meet to discuss the best possible placement for Huggett's unborn child.

Two other children were removed from the home, investigators said. It wasn't immediately clear their relationship to Branum was.

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