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Week after 1-year-old's murder, Baton Rouge mother charged with cruelty

1 month 2 days 2 hours ago Monday, April 05 2021 Apr 5, 2021 April 05, 2021 5:55 PM April 05, 2021 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - The mother of a 1-year-old who was allegedly beaten to death by a man who was asked to care for her is now charged in the child's death. 

Christy Marie Fontenot was booked into the parish jail Monday.

Fontenot's baby daughter, Ja'leah, died last weekend after she left the toddler and her two other children, aged 3 and 7, with Jonathan Dunn. Dunn was the father to two of Fontenot's children. 

Family members said they told Fontenot to stop bringing Ja'leah to stay with Dunn, claiming that he previously threatened to kill the 1-year-old and noting the children often had bruises all over their bodies. 

"He told the mother to stop bringing her over here because he was going to kill her," Sterling said. "This is not the first time Ja'leah has had bruises all over her and scratches all over her." 

Detectives learned from the hospital Ja'leah was brought to that most of her injuries were minor. After conducting an autopsy, it was found that the infant had died from several untreated, old injuries. 

Arrest records say Dunn blamed Fontenot for the bruises, stating anytime a family member would suggest to Fontenot to bring the children to the hospital for their injuries, she would tell him not to because she didn't want her kids taken from her. Family members said Dunn also abused the infant and that Fontenot was aware, but she continued to let him watch the children. 

Several witnesses also told police Fontenot would hit her children with a kitchen spatula and that she recently struck one of her children in the face on multiple occasions.

Police also noted Dunn's residence, where the children often stayed, was in "deplorable" condition with no running water or electricity. The report said the only "inhabitable" room was right inside the front door where trash, clothes and old food piled up from floor to ceiling. Officers also found pieces of material falling from the ceiling, black mold, lack of flooring in some areas and a large amount of safety hazardssuch as nails and woodsticking out of the floor. 

Fontenot's charges include second-degree cruelty to juveniles and failure to seek assistance. Her bond amount was set at $225,000.

Click here to watch the report live on News 2 at 10:00.

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