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Failed to Death: Lillian Leyba

6:51 PM, Nov 11, 2012   |    comments
Lillian Leyba
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 PDF Document: arrest affidavit leyba  PDF Document: fatality leyba

Age: 2 mos.
Born: Sept 12, 2009
Died: Nov 26, 2009
Location: Lakewood
Suspect in death: Marcus Leyba, father

Aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all gathered at the Lakewood home of Lilian's great-grandparents, where the 2-month-old lived in the basement with her parents and older sister.

But what could have been a heartwarming scene of family togetherness erupted into an alcohol-fueled brawl.

After Lilian's mother, Jenifer Chavez, and her 24-year-old father, Marcus Leyba, got into a fight, Chavez took her 2-year-old daughter and left. According to police reports and the state's child-fatality review, Chavez wanted to take Lilian, too, but Leyba's mother insisted she leave the baby with Marcus.

Marcus Leyba's stepsister told police that later, Leyba, who had Lilian in his arms, arose from "a stupor" and began attacking his mother. His stepsister chastised him, so he stopped, handed Lilian to his stepsister and resumed choking his mother. After his stepfather pulled Leyba off his mother, Leyba took a swing at his stepfather. Eventually, according to police, Leyba calmed down, and took Lilian to the basement.

Sometime later, Leyba's mother and stepsister went downstairs and found Leyba asleep. Lilian, lying next to him, wasn't breathing.

According to Lakewood police documents, Lilian's step-grandfather said while trying to perform CPR on the baby, he touched the back of her head and it "felt like mush." Lilian's aunt told police that she saw the baby lying on the table, and, "She noted that her head was not round and was lying flat on the table."

Lilian died just before midnight on Thanksgiving, 2009.

An autopsy determined she had suffered four blows to her head.

The first time human services workers heard of the family was in 2007, when Leyba hit Chavez while she was holding Lilian's older sister.

Jefferson County human services caseworkers met with Chavez but closed the case when they couldn't locate Leyba.

"Mr. Leyba never called the caseworkers back," according to the state child-fatality report. The report pointed out that Leyba should have been easy to track down - he was in jail at the time.

Caseworkers crossed paths with the couple again in 2009, when they were informed that Chavez, who was one week from delivering a second baby - Lilian - had tested positive for marijuana.

According to the death review, caseworkers took Chavez's word for it when she said she was in treatment and never contacted her probation officer or treatment provider.

A jury found Marcus Leyba guilty of first degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. He was sentenced to life in prison for murder, 48 years for the child abuse charge. His attorney is appealing the sentence.

Read the Arrest Affidavit

Read the Fatality Review

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