Chelsea Marie Huggett, 21, was arrested Thursday after detectives said she admitted to killing her daughter, 2-year-old Aliyah Marie Branum. The medical examiner's office ruled the child died from blunt force trauma.
Huggett, who is eighth months pregnant by her boyfriend, faces charges of first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. Aliyah's father is in the military and out of state.
At the time of her death April 26, Aliyah had bruises all over her body, including her face, head, arms, legs, back and shoulders, the Citrus County Sheriff's Office said.
The medical examiner said the girl had a skull fracture and hemorrhaging on the left side of her swollen brain.
"I can only use the word horrific end to a 2-year-old's life," said Sheriff Jeffrey Dawson, who called the child's death “a brutal murder.”
Huggett told detectives she shook her daughter several times last week because the child would not stop “whining” and kept climbing onto her and wanted to sit in her lap, according to an arrest affidavit.
She also told investigators that she placed her hand over the child's mouth to muffle cries, according to the affidavit.
About 4 a.m. April 26, she slammed the girl's head into the bedroom wall and head-butted her, investigators said. The child lost consciousness and never regained it, the affidavit said. She lay in bed with the unconscious child and failed to seek medical treatment, the affidavit said.
A roommate reportedly called 911.
Huggett, of 1605 N. Julia Way, Hernando, told a detective “she did not mean to kill the victim; she just could not take her 'whining' all of the time,” according to the affidavit.
On April 24, according to the affidavit, Aliyah was taken by ambulance to a hospital because of swollen hands. She was released to her mother, and no sign of abuse was observed, the affidavit said.
On April 25, roommates noticed Aliyah acting lethargic, the affidavit said. Huggett responded that the toddler had possibly come in contact with insecticide that had spilled on her car seat, the affidavit said. Huggett called a poison control hotline, which suggested taking the girl to a hospital, but Huggett never did, the affidavit said.
When the hotline called back a few hours later, Huggett said her daughter was fine.
The state Department of Children & Families has been investigating the Huggett since August, officials said.
Crime & Courts
Citrus County mom charged in 2-year-old's death