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Man charged in baby's murder had threatened to kill her, family says

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BATON ROUGE - A judge denied bond Monday for a man accused of killing a 1-year-old girl over the weekend.

According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, officers found Ja'leah Fontenot unresponsive at an address on Peerless Street around 11 p.m. Saturday. She had multiple bruises and a large burn on her back. The baby was taken to a local hospital where she later died.

An autopsy report released Monday ruled her death a homicide and said she died from "multiple blunt force injuries."

Jonathan Dunn, 34, was arrested for the girl's death. Dunn was booked on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree cruelty to a juvenile.

The family told WBRZ that Dunn is the father of one of the baby's siblings. Her aunt said she had repeatedly asked her mother to stop bringing Ja'leah over there.

"This is what the mother told me, his words were he got high and passed out," said Ja'leah's aunt, Lorna Sterling. "He felt something either bite or scratch him. He just slung it to the wall. How could you not know that's a baby. She was a big baby. How could you not know this?"

Sterling told WBRZ she helped care for Ja'leah.

"I got a case of pampers and a case of wipes at the house right now," Sterling said. "That's just how much I had her."

Sterling was stricken with grief over the loss. Warning signs began to develop when she noticed bruises on Ja'leah. That's when she told her mother to stop bringing her to Dunn's house.

"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."

She told WBRZ that Dunn followed through on that threat. Now, her family is saddled with the loss of precious Ja'leah, as well as trying to plan and finance a funeral.

"My heart is heavy right now for Ja'leah," Sterling said.

Sterling described Ja'leah as a baby who always smiled. She was constantly happy and rarely cried.

"Ja'leah was a wonderful baby," Sterling said. "She was never a problem to watch, and she should be here right now."

The WBRZ Investigative Unit found Dunn has a violent past. Since 2009, he's been arrested for aggravated battery, armed robbery and a number of drug charges.

"He hated my brother's baby," Sterling said. "It wasn't his. Because it wasn't his."

As Sterling fought back tears, she said she's confident justice will come for Dunn.

Baton Rouge Police said the case remains under investigation.

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