LAKEWOOD, Colo. – The mother of a 2-year-old girl who was brutally beaten last month witnessed at least one of the beatings allegedly undertaken by her boyfriend, and now faces investigation on child abuse charges, according to prosecutors.
Melissa Nicole Mangeri, 28, faces investigation on one count of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury related to her daughter’s alleged abuse.
Her boyfriend, 21-year-old Joshua Gonzales, was arrested on Sept. 17 and charged with reckless child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. He faces between 10 and 32 years in prison if convicted.
According to prosecutors and police, the alleged abuse happened Sept. 11, but Mangeri didn't call 911 until three days later to report the toddler was in the midst of a medical emergency.
New details revealed in an arrest affidavit obtained by Denver7 state that doctors said a liver laceration, "could not have occurred three days prior" because if it had been untreated, the little girl "would have been dead in several hours." It is not clear from the record why Mangeri would have lied about the date of the injury.
The girl was taken from outside a Denver elementary school to Denver Medical Center, where she was initially believed to have life-threatening injuries.
The First Judicial District Attorney’s Office said the child had internal bleeding, a lacerated liver, pulmonary contusions, fractured ribs, hemorrhaging in her eyes and that she was suffering from shock and seizures once she arrived at the hospital. The DA’s office said doctors testified the injuries suggested she may have been strangled.
Authorities said Friday that the girl had been released from the hospital and was living with family members.
"She is doing really awesome, way better than the doctors ever expected," said Ruth Tafoya, the little girl's great-aunt. "She just acts like a normal 3-year-old."
The affidavit states that Mangeri was with Gonzales during with at least one of the beatings and didn't try and help her daughter.
It also states that the girl's brother told police she had once been beaten so badly her face looked "like a pumpkin" but that his mother would not take her to the doctor. "She thought they'd think it was her or her boyfriend."
Tafoya said Mangeri had battered woman's syndrome and was afraid for her safety and the safety of her children.
"Her children are her everything, and she is not a bad mother," said Tafoya. "Until you've been beaten and been abused, you will never understand."
Police arrested Mangeri Thursday, and she appeared in a Jefferson County courtroom Friday to be advised of her rights.
She’s being held on a $50,000 bond, and is due back in court next Thursday to possibly be formally charged.