Mother denies abuse charge after 15-month-old dies

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by Brian Skoloff, Associated Press

Video report by Mike Watkiss

Posted on July 11, 2013 at 3:51 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 15 at 10:08 PM

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PHOENIX (AP) -- A woman charged along with her husband with child abuse in the death of their severely malnourished 15-month-old daughter denied the allegations Thursday, telling a judge neither of them ever mistreated any of their seven children.

Phoenix police responded to the couple's home Wednesday about a baby who wasn't breathing. The child, who the parents said hadn't seen a doctor since birth due to their religious beliefs, later died at a hospital. Police said the infant weighed less than 9 pounds and suffered from "profound malnutrition" along with numerous bone fractures.

Ernest Ingram and Denise Snow-Ingram, both 38, are each charged with one count of child abuse and remained held Thursday on a $250,000 bond.

During an initial court appearance, Denise Snow-Ingram pleaded for leniency in the case before the judge cut her off and said he would be appointing attorneys to represent them at their next hearing, set for July 18.

"We have never committed a felony, any type of anything as far as criminal activity before, and also we need the opportunity to be able to collect evidence to show, to prove that we didn't do ... what we are being accused of," she said.

Prosecutors, meanwhile, claimed the child died, in part, due to starvation. An autopsy was planned for Thursday.

Phoenix police said the couple's six other children, ranging in age from 3 to 12, have been placed in the care of Arizona's Child Protective Services. While they did not appear to have suffered any injuries, they will be examined by physicians.

CPS officials did not immediately have comment.

Phoenix police Sgt. Trent Crump said authorities have no records of previous calls to the residence.

The couple said the child hadn't been seen by a doctor since being examined by a pediatrician in the immediate days after her birth.

"They have claimed it is their religious right to raise their kids as they please," Crump said, adding the couple has not stated what religion they practice.

Both suspects said they believed the baby's development had been "a little slow," according to police reports.

"We could have pending homicide charges," Crump said.

He said the couple's home did not appear to be "uninhabitable," noting that the "living standard is not something at this point that we're looking at as being a factor in all this."

Meanwhile, neighbors said things never seemed right at the home about four miles north of downtown.

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