Mom, boyfriend plead not guilty in 4-year-old's death

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by Catherine Holland

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on June 19, 2012 at 10:34 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 19 at 11:00 AM

PHOENIX -- The mother of the 4-year-old girl who died as the result of alleged child abuse pleaded not guilty in court Tuesday morning.

Ashley Buckman and her live-in boyfriend, James Edwards, are facing a variety of charges, including murder and child abuse, in the wake of Toryn Buckman's death. Both were in court Tuesday morning. Edwards entered a plea of not guilty, as well.

The little girl was hospitalized on May 30 after paramedics were called to her home because she wasn't breathing.

"When the fire department got there, they immediately recognized that this child who was not breathing at the time was actually the victim of child abuse," Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said after officers arrested Buckman and Edwards.

Toryn died the next day.

Between comments Buckman and Edwards made to detectives when they were interviewed and the injuries to the girl doctors observed, police believe Toryn was the victim of ongoing abuse.

They say Buckman, 22, beat her little daughter on multiple occasions, the last of which allegedly happened two days before her death. They also believe Edwards, also 22, intentionally scalded her with hot water in the bathtub.

But the alleged abuse did not end there.

"There were injuries basically head to foot," Thompson said. Toryn had a number of abrasions and bruises, as well as whip marks made by a clothes hanger and apparent scald marks on her lower body. Detectives are calling this one of the most egregious instances of child abuse they have ever seen.

"These are detectives who have 25 years of experience with the department, have been working homicide for a long time," Thompson said.

While Edwards was not Toryn's father, he and Buckman have a 1-year-old child together. That child is now in the custody of Child Protective Services. Thompson said there did not appear to be any abuse involving the 1-year-old.

Although a judge set bond for Buckman and Edwards at their initial court appearances earlier this month, both remain in jail. She is being held at Estrella Jail; he is at Lower Buckeye Jail.

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