Charges Against Mother Upgraded to Manslaughter in 2-Year-Old Girl's Death

Shaniqua Leonard of Whitman was previously charged with reckless endangerment of a child in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Lyric Farrell

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The mother of a 2-year-old Massachusetts girl who died late last year has now been charged with manslaughter.

Lyric Farrell of Whitman was found unresponsive on Dec. 28 and taken to Brockton Hospital, where she was taken off life support on Dec. 31 after being declared brain-dead. Shaniqua Leonard, 29, was arrested the following month on a charge of reckless endangerment of a child.

The Plymouth County District Attorney's Office announced Monday that Leonard's charges had been upgraded to manslaughter, citing the completion of an autopsy and the investigation by state and local police.

According to court documents from earlier this year, Leonard told authorities the toddler had been banging her head on the floor in the days leading up to her death. The defendant also showed them a video of the matter.

Prosecutors previously said the mother of seven failed to get the medical care her 2-year-old needed — pointing to more than a dozen videos on Leonard's phone showing the little girl in distress.

Authorities arrested the mother of a 2-year-old Whitman girl who died, charging her with reckless child endangerment.

"Mom did nothing to alleviate that in the final hours and instead waited she has no pulse and was not breathing at all to call 911," Assistant District Attorney Jessica Kenny said in January.

Prosecutors added that Leonard has a lengthy criminal record including 12 different retraining orders as well as a charge of assault with a dangerous weapon against the toddler's father.

Leonard's attorney said after her arrest that those old charges are debatable and there was no evidence his client harmed her daughter.

"What we have here is a woman charged with a misdemeanor who based on the Commonwealth's recitation is charged not because she acted but because she didn't act," defense attorney Michael Trumposky said at the time.

The girl's father, Chris Farrell, told NBC10 Boston that the Department of Child and Families had custody of Lyric for about 14 months before she was returned to Leonard. Chris said he previously reported the defendant to officials for being violent.

Chris Farrell, who was in court in January for Leonard's arraignment, said he was saddened by the situation.

"I mean, that's my child. You know, how am I supposed to feel? I've been telling them forever," he said.

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