Woman held a 4-year-old girl, whose body was found buried and weighed 23 pounds at the time of the discovery, left in her care in a closet, and deprived the girl of proper nutrition, then lied to officers that her husband beat the child to death; faces death penalty

In a heart-wrenching case that has captured the attention of the community, prosecutors are pursuing the death penalty against 31-year-old Alysia for her alleged role in the tragic death of 4-year-old Athena. Athena was under Alysia’s care when she died, and the circumstances surrounding her death have led to a significant legal battle.

Alysia faces charges of first-degree murder, accused of creating a situation that significantly risked the lives of more than one person and resulted in Athena’s death, described by prosecutors as “especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel.” The case began to unfold on January 10, 2023, when Athena’s 5-year-old sister was found wandering outside Alysia’s residence by a postal carrier. This discovery led to a search for Athena, who was missing at the time.

Investigators revealed a disturbing narrative in which Alysia initially blamed her husband, 37-year-old Ivon, for beating Athena to death on Christmas Day, 2022. However, an autopsy of Athena’s body, which was found in a shallow grave inside a backpack, revealed she died from “acute pneumonia complicating malnutrition,” not from injuries related to a beating. It was determined that Alysia was responsible for confining Athena in a closet and failing to provide adequate nutrition. Athena weighed only 23 pounds at the time of her discovery, well below the third percentile for her age and stature. The legal proceedings have seen Ivon’ charges downgraded to second-degree murder, in addition to charges of unlawful removal of a body and child neglect. Alysia, besides facing the primary charge of first-degree murder, is also charged with obstructing an officer by allegedly misleading investigators about the cause of Athena’s death and child neglect regarding her treatment of Athena’s older sister.

Adding to the case’s complexity, Athena’s mother, Jasmin, was arrested in May 2023 for reportedly abandoning her daughters with the couple. This tragic case brings to light the severe consequences of child neglect and abuse, as the legal system seeks justice for Athena. The pursuit of the death penalty against Alysia underscores the gravity with which the state views the alleged crimes, signaling a rigorous legal battle ahead.

Alfred Duncan

Alfred Duncan is a senior editor at The South Florida Daily, where he oversees our coverage of politics, misinformation, health and economics. Alfred is a former reporter and editor for BuzzFeed News, National Geographic and USA Today.

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