Phoenix mom pleads not guilty in daughter's death - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

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Phoenix mom pleads not guilty in daughter's death

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Melissa Centeno (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Melissa Centeno (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Melissa Centeno  (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Melissa Centeno (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Sergio Ortiz (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Sergio Ortiz (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Sergio Ortiz (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Sergio Ortiz (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -

A Phoenix woman arrested on suspicion of child abuse in the death of her 4-year-old daughter has pleaded not guilty.

Maricopa County prosecutors said 19-year-old Melissa Centeno entered her plea at her arraignment Wednesday. Her next scheduled court appearance is a Dec. 18 initial pretrial conference.

Centeno, 19, told officers her live-in boyfriend, Sergio Ortiz, 22, would sometimes get "heavy-handed" when disciplining her young girl.

Centeno confessed she struck her daughter twice in the abdomen on Friday night, causing bruising, according to a court document. She said she didn't seek medical help for fear the bruising might be discovered, court paperwork stated. 

Detectives also discovered Ortiz had cared for the victim while Centeno was at work on Saturday. The woman told police when she returned home, she observed bruising to the child's face that had not been there when she left, according to Phoenix police Officer James Holmes. 

Centeno told detectives she knew her child was nauseous and vomiting since the time the girl had been struck, Holmes said. The child complained of abdominal pain, according to Holmes.

Centeno said she finally called a pediatrician Sunday morning when she saw her child was not getting any better, the court document stated. Authorities said the mother didn't act on the doctor's advice and refused to take the girl to an emergency room, court paperwork said.

The woman said she only called 911 when her daughter had stopped breathing, police said.

Police and paramedics received the call and they responded to the apartment at 7007 West Indian School Rd.

Ortiz initially told police the girl had fallen off the sofa the night before and also fell in the bathroom during bathing time, police said. 

Trauma doctors at Phoenix Children's Hospital said initial testing indicated that the victim suffered from an unknown severe internal abdominal injury and bruising in the abdominal area.

The victim also had extensive bruising in other parts of her body that included areas consistent with Centeno's admissions of the couple striking the girl and causing injuries, the court document said. 

Child Protective Services arrived to foster a 1-year-old child who was also at the home.

Police determined Centeno and Ortiz are the parents of the 1-year-old. The 4-year-old victim is Centeno's child from a previous relationship, said Holmes. 

Police say the two could face additional charges pending autopsy results.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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