'Baby Went Through Living Hell': Couple Allegedly Killed Girl Weeks After Child Services Returned Her
A young California couple pleaded not guilty to charges they murdered their 3-month-old daughter — weeks after the county's Child Welfare Services returned the baby to them, say police.
Brandon Copeland, 21, and Elizabeth Ucman, 22, of San Diego, entered their pleas in San Diego Superior Court Monday at their arraignment following the death of their daughter, The San Diego Union-Tribune, CBS 8 and NBC 7 San Diego report.
They are each charged with first-degree murder, and each face 25 years to life in prison if convicted, Deputy District Attorney Franciesca Balerio said, the Union-Tribune reports.
On Nov. 9 at 11:18 p.m., San Diego Police received a call about an unresponsive infant in need of urgent medical attention at a residence at 4400 Maple Street in Colina Del Sol, police say in a release.
Officers rushed to the residence and immediately began administering CPR to the infant until San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel arrived.
The infant was transported to the hospital but was pronounced dead there.
After an investigation Copeland and Ucman were arrested.
Police have not specified how the baby died.
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As the couple awaits their next court date, their families are mourning the loss of the baby, whose name was Delilah, CBS 8 reports.
"This baby went through living hell," the baby's great-grandmother Adrienne Arnett told CBS 8.
When Delilah was born, social services placed her in emergency custody with a great aunt because Copeland and Ucman's apartment was ruled dirty and unfit, Arnett told CBS 8.
Six weeks later, Delilah was returned to her parents after they cleaned up their home, Arnett told CBS 8.
Weeks later, Delilah died, leaving Arnett and her family devastated.
"Delilah is in heaven," she told CBS 8. "I can't help her but there are so many other babies out there. I can't save my grandbaby but maybe we can save some others."
Arnett said she told social services that Ucman and Copeland were "dangerous," she told CBS 8 and NBC 7.
San Diego County Child Welfare Services did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
The San Diego Police Department says it has no further information at this time.
Ucman is being held at Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility in Santee without bond.
Copeland is being held at the San Diego Central Jail without bond.
They are scheduled to return to court on Monday. It is unclear whether they have retained attorneys who can speak on their behalf.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call police at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.
If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.