Newly released police interviews revealed that the mother of a 13-month old who starved to death claimed she didn’t know her daughter was the weight of a newborn when she died.
The tapes, released by the State Attorney’s Office on Thursday, provided a glimpse into Kristen Meyer-Aleman and Alejandro Aleman’s mindsets months after the April 2016 death of their daughter Tayla. The medical examiner claimed the baby died from exhaustion caused by neglect, weighing 7 pounds when she died—2 pounds less than when she was born—according to the Palm Beach Post.
An autopsy determined that the toddler had influenza, E. coli, the start of pneumonia, and a bacteria linked to skin infections.
Despite wearing clothes intended for a 3-month-old, WPTV reported that Meyer-Aleman claimed she didn’t take Tayla to the doctor because she was feeding her.
“I knew she was small. I didn’t realize she was that small,” Meyer-Aleman supposedly said to detectives during the three-hour interview. “Why would I starve my child?”
The station reported that a neighbor claimed the children would often beg for food and water.
Tayla also allegedly had a severe rash around her genitals that was so red it resembled burns. Meyer-Alman maintained that the rash was quarter-sized and was caused by drinking apple juice.
During the interrogation, the mother was also confronted about the deplorable condition of their Loxahatchee, Florida, home. Detectives alleged that the residence reeked of urine and feces and the home was littered with foot-high piles of clothes. She claimed that she managed to do laundry every day even though the landlord failed to provide them with a functional washer. She also said the dogs and her other kids could be to blame for the feces on the walls.
Conversely, Tayla’s father told investigators that he had little to do with his daughter’s upbringing. In fact, Aleman told investigators that he “won’t hold a baby until 2 years old” because he’s “scared” of little kids. He also said that the 13-month-old was fed and he didn’t notice that she was alarmingly thin, the Post also reported.
“I don’t hold little kids, there’s no law that I have to hold my daughter.”
Aleman appeared annoyed at one point, asking investigators whether he was legally required to take his daughter to the doctor.
“You guys never took Tayla to the doctor to find out what’s going on and all she did was lose weight lose weight and not put on any weight. No one ever noticed it and she didn’t have any teeth, that’s not normal for a 13-month-old,” Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Detective Vionide St. Jean told Aleman.
Meyer-Alman and Alman have 10 kids together, one which was born after Tayla’s death. They have been in the Florida Department of Children and Families’ custody since her death.
The couple is charged with first-degree murder. They face the death penalty if convicted.