OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against a Utah couple accused of taunting their malnourished 3-year-old daughter with food before she died.
The state filed the notice Tuesday in the case of 25-year-old Miller Costello and 23-year-old Brenda Emile.
The Ogden couple is accused of recording cellphone videos of themselves taunting Angelina Costello as her condition worsened before her July 2017 death.
According to reports, the couple was arrested July 6 after police received a 911 call reporting the girl was not breathing. Prosecutors say she had been dead for some time when police arrived.
She had bruising, contusions, lacerations, burns, open sores and abrasions all over her face, hands, legs, head and neck.
“The child victim’s facial features were also sunken in, void of definition from muscle or fat. Some of the child victim’s injuries appeared recent and acute while other injuries appeared to be in various stages of healing,” a probable cause statement said.
Emile allegedly admitted to covering the child in makeup to conceal some injuries “so they didn’t look as bad.”
“It’s the worst case of child abuse I’ve ever seen,” Ogden police officer Chris Bishop said at the hearing, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Another officer said the child “looked like a Holocaust victim.”
Horrific evidence has been shown depicting what prosecutors call “a life of torture.”
In one video shot months before the girl’s death, Angelina is seen eating slices of an onion as blood runs from her nose. In another video, the girl is offered a forkful of scrambled eggs before it is taken away.
“Haha, no food for you,” the mother tells the child.
Both Emile and Costello pleaded not guilty to aggravated murder charges. Costello has told investigators that he knew of Angelina’s deteriorating health, but said his wife would get mad at him if he fed her.
Emile’s attorney Martin Gravis has also argued there was no definitive evidence to suggest she caused the girl’s death. A judge, though, disagreed and pointed to the allegation that Emile used makeup to conceal the girl’s injuries.
If the couple is convicted, prosecutors would push for capital punishment in a separate sentencing hearing.