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Mother Gives Birth, Then Arrested In Death Of Other Child

November 27, 1988

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ A woman faces a first-degree murder charge in the beating death of her young son, who died hours after the woman gave birth to a third son.

Mary Lee Collins of Zephyrhills, described by neighbors and official records as an abusive mother, was arrested Saturday. She was being held Sunday without bond in the Hillsborough County Jail.

Her 21-month-old son, Joshua, who died Friday, had been returned to Collins last month by the state after he spent months in protective custody after an earlier alleged beating incident, police said.

Both Joshua and his 4-year-old brother, Nathan, were taken from Collins, 21, in July when she was arrested on charges of abusing Joshua. Collins was arrested after she told police she had grabbed Joshua by the throat and pushed him into a tombstone in a cemetery to stop him from crying.

She was later released; the children were returned to her a month ago.

Officials of the state Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services said they had no comment on the case.

Police spokesman Steve Cole said that sometime Wednesday afternoon, Collins kicked Joshua in the head before leaving for the hospital to deliver her third son. She left Joshua with her boyfriend, Raymond Leet, who was unaware of the beating and noticed only that the boy seemed drowsy.

Collins was released from the hospital Friday, after giving birth early that morning, and brought Joshua to the hospital emergency room shortly thereafter. The child was pronounced dead after doctors worked in vain for 30 minutes to revive him.

″There were obvious signs of child abuse,″ Cole said.

Cole said that Collins admitted to beating Joshua. The unnamed newborn and Nathan were taken into protective custody by the state, he said.

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