NJ man also raped toddler who he burned and suffocated — new charges
TRENTON — It's a list of charges that's simply monstrous.
The city man who was charged this week with scalding, punching and suffocating his girlfriend's toddler has now been charged with also brutally raping the baby girl.
Maison Andres Torres, 25, was sitting in jail when prosecutors slapped him with two counts of first-degree aggravated sexual assault, one count of second-degree sexual assault and another count of second-degree child endangerment.
The charges followed an autopsy performed Thursday on the body of 2-year-old Lia Victoria Merino-Rodriguez.
The girl was pronounced dead at the hospital on Wednesday after police responded to her Chestnut Avenue home about 4:20 p.m. on a report of the girl being unconscious after falling down the steps.
Investigators, however, said the death had been caused by Torres scalding the toddler with hot water, punching her and then suffocating her with his hands.
He was initially charged with first-degree murder and second-degree child endangerment.
Torres lived with the child and her mother in a room that the mother rented. The child's mother was not home at the time of the beating, officials said.
A neighbor told Telemundo 62 that he went into the home after hearing a commotion and found the body of the girl in her room. He said he could not feel her pulse and that her face looked like it had been punched.
New Jersey 101.5 did not know Friday whether Torres had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.