Mother, NJ man charged in death, sexual assault of 3-year-old, authorities say
Authorities have charged a 33-year-old Paterson mother and 30-year-old man in the death of a 3-year-old who investigators say may have also been the victim of sexual assault.
Jonathan Almodovar and Damarius Lawson were arrested following an investigation by the Passaic County Prosecutor's Office Special Victims Unit, Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes said in a press release Monday.
According to authorities, the investigation began after Lawson and Almodovar brought Lawson's 3-year-old daughter to the emergency room at Saint Joseph’s Regional Medical Center. The child was unresponsive and doctors later determined she had a "significant brain injury."
"It was concluded that some of the child’s injuries were consistent with sexual assault," the prosecutor said. "The child remained in critical condition until Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, when she was pronounced dead at approximately 12:35 p.m."
Investigators from the Special Victims Unit obtained a warrant to search the couple's home, the prosecutor stated in the press release. During the search, authorities said "potential evidence" was found. Police later found that Lawson "attempted to cause a witness to testify or inform falsely," which led to charges of witness tampering.
Almodovar has been charged with the following: one count of murder, one count of aggravated sexual assault, one count of sexual assault and one count of endangering the welfare of a child. Lawson was charged with: one count of aggravated manslaughter, one count of endangering the welfare of a child, one count of tampering with a witness and one count of tampering with physical evidence. The murder charge is a first degree offense and carries a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.
The prosecutor said the aggravated manslaughter charge is also a first degree offense and carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; while the aggravated sexual assault charge is a first degree offense that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Bail for Almodovar was set at $2 million cash only and Lawson bail was set at $1 million cash only, authorities said.
Toniann Antonelli is the digital managing editor for news at NJ 101.5. Reach her at email@example.com, or on Twitter @ToniRadio1015.