Az. mom, boyfriend accused of killing her 2-year-old son and claiming it was a dog attack
05/18/2023 2:38 pm PDT
GLENDALE, Ariz. (TCD) -- A Phoenix-area woman and her boyfriend, both 20, were arrested on suspicion of murder after her 2-year-old son was found dead in their home with a severe skull fracture and they claimed he was attacked by a dog.
In a news conference, Glendale Police Department Public Information Officer Gina Winn described Braxton Lopez’s "unimaginable and heinous death." On Tuesday, May 16, the Glendale Fire Department responded to Johnny Brazell and Leilah Lopez’s home after receiving a call that the boy wasn’t breathing. They claimed he had a gash on his head from a dog attack, but when first responders arrived, they noticed bruising all over Braxton’s body.
Firefighters attempted lifesaving measures on Braxton, but he was eventually transported to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Winn said Braxton had been dead for one to two hours by the time he arrived at the hospital.
Detectives spoke with Brazell and Lopez about Braxton, and the two "provided a lengthy story" about the alleged dog attack. Their stories, however, had "a lot of discrepancies," so detectives asked them about it. Eventually, Brazell reportedly admitted to killing Braxton.
According to Winn, on Tuesday morning, Brazell saw Braxton trying to pull a blanket down from a window. Brazell allegedly "admitted to picking up Braxton by the leg, dangling him in the air," and beating him with a belt. He then allegedly threw the toddler against furniture and dropped him headfirst onto a hard surface.
Braxton sustained a fractured skull and laceration above his eye. His eyes and body were reportedly swollen and bruised, but neither Lopez nor Brazell called 911.
Instead, Brazell reportedly left to take another child to a doctor’s appointment. Lopez allegedly noticed her son wasn’t breathing well, so she gave him a bath. She put him down for a nap, but Braxton’s breathing troubles continued. Lopez reportedly called Brazell to come back, and when he arrived, Braxton wasn’t breathing anymore. The two came up with the dog attack story in the meantime.
Winn said Brazell’s 2-year-old child and Lopez and Brazell’s 2-week-old child were also in the home at the time, but they did not appear abused. Braxton had bruises and wounds with different levels of healing, which led detectives to believe Braxton’s abuse was a "continued series of events."
Brazell and Lopez both confessed and face charges of murder and child abuse. Neither has a criminal history, according to Winn.
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