Emory University Law Student and Political Candidate Charged with Allegedly Murdering Foster Daughter

Jennifer Rosenbaum's defense attorney says the 2-year-old's injuries occurred prior to Rosenbaum's custody

Photo: Courtesy Corrine Mull

An Emory University law student and former military police officer who wanted to go into politics was arrested last Friday for allegedly murdering a 2-year-old foster child in her care.

Jennifer Rosenbaum, 27, who had declared her candidacy for Georgia’s Henry County Board of Commission, is charged with murder, aggravated assault, child cruelty in the second degree and two counts of child cruelty in the first degree, according to the arrest affidavit obtained by multiple outlets. Her husband, Joseph Rosenbaum, faces two counts of child cruelty. (The charges were confirmed to PEOPLE by Henry County District Attorney James L. Wright.)

According to the affidavit, the child, Laila Marie Daniel, was starved and beaten from June 13 through Nov. 17, the day she died. The affidavit states that Jennifer Rosenbaum struck Laila in the abdomen “with such force that [Laila’s] pancreas was transected. The child was believed to enter shock due to blood loss resulting from the injury.”

The affidavit also says that Laila had severe bruising throughout her body and that she was malnourished.

Jennifer Rosenbaum is being held without bond, according to multiple reports. Joseph Rosenbaum bonded out on $10,000 bail and has been released, according to the Henry Daily Herald.

According to Wright, Jennifer Rosenbaum won’t enter a plea until her preliminary hearing, which has not yet been scheduled.

In an interview with WTOC, Laila’s biological mother, who appears distraught, says, “If somebody was hurting [Laila], she probably thought nobody loved her.”

Laila’s online obituary states, “Laila loved everybody and had a big loving smile and would let you know that she was a big girl.”

Defense Attorney: Injuries Could Have Been Caused Before Rosenbaums Began Caring for Laila

Jennifer Rosenbaum’s attorney, Corrine Mull, tells PEOPLE that Laila’s injuries may have been caused by former foster parents. “It happens more than we know in foster parent circles because you don’t know the history of foster children you’re given,” Mull says.

Mull says that the Rosenbaums began caring for Laila on July 24, and the affidavit states that Laila’s injuries began on June 13. Says Mull, “It’s a matter of dating the injuries and determining how much are old injuries done by older foster parents.”

She also says that Rosenbaum attempted to resuscitate Laila, which she says could have caused the bruising and transected pancreas referenced in the affidavit.

In a 911 call obtained by the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and other outlets, Jennifer allegedly says, “I’m hoping I didn’t break her rib, I’ve been pushing hard.” She allegedly adds, “I don’t really know how to do this.”

Says Mull, “The story isn’t: ‘A poor mother who left her kid in foster care.’ Well, why are they in foster care? That’s the question that should be asked.”

Former Boss: ‘There’s Nothing in My Experience That Would Have Ever Foreshadowed This’

Rosenbaum worked for State Rep. Mike Dudgeon in 2014 while taking classes at Emory, a prestigious law school in Atlanta.

Dudgeon says that Rosenbaum had once worked as a military police officer. He confirmed reports that she herself had once been in foster care.

“To my experience she was a great success story,” Dudgeon tells PEOPLE. “She had a successful stint in the military and seemed to be hitting on all cylinders.”

He adds, “There’s nothing in my experience that would have ever foreshadowed this.”

“You always see when the talk to the friend or neighbor who’d say, ‘I can’t believe it.’ Now I’m the guy saying that.”

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