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Mother Indicted in Death of Little Elisa

November 29, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ A mother has been indicted in the death of her 6-year-old daughter, whose head she allegedly slammed into a concrete wall because she believed the child was possessed by Satan.

A judge on Tuesday ordered Awilda Lopez returned to jail, where she was being held without bail in the death of Elisa Izquierdo.

The indictment charges her with second-degree murder, which is punishable by 25 years to life in prison. She is also charged with first-degree manslaughter and endangering the welfare of Elisa and two of her five other children.

Lopez, 29, was under a suicide watch and in protective custody, said her attorney, Dan Ollen. ``People in prison lash out at people who commit these kinds of crimes,″ he said.

Ollen said he planned to get her a psychiatric examination. Judge Lee Elkin of Criminal Court in Manhattan scheduled a court hearing for Dec. 20.

Police found Elisa’s body in her apartment a week ago. An autopsy found she died from a brain hemorrhage caused by a blow to the head. Some of her fingers were broken and her skin was scarred by cigarette burns.

Since her death, the details of Elisa’s tortured life has emerged. Lopez once allegedly had used Elisa’s head to mop the floor and had slammed her head into a concrete wall two days before she died, police said.

Child welfare workers had been warned repeatedly about the abuse but apparently did little to intervene.

``Awilda hits me. I don’t want to go to Awilda,″ Elisa reportedly told a caseworker two years ago, according to teacher’s aide Barbara Simmons, who worked at the Montessori school in Brooklyn, the one Elisa attended.

The Daily News reported today that Simmons was with Elisa when she spoke to the caseworker, at a time when she lived with her father and visited her mother every other weekend.

Family Court Judge Phoebe Greenbaum ruled last year after Elisa’s father died of cancer that Elisa should remain with her mother.

Greenbaum said she based her decision ``on the recommendation of the Child Welfare Administration, which had observed the mother’s home for over a year and the child’s law guardian, an attorney on the staff of the Legal Aid Society who represented and had spoken with Elisa.″

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