Thai immigrant admits torturing baby before killing her
A Madison woman admitted to abusing her infant daughter for weeks before she killed her by slamming her head into a table and stuffing a blanket into her mouth.
Ee Lee, 23, was charged today with first-degree intentional homicide in the July 7 death of 6-week-old Anastasia Vang, first-degree reckless endangerment and two counts of physical abuse of a child in the weeks prior to her death.
A criminal complaint detailed Lee's confession that she pinched the child repeatedly over her body and head, at times in front of others while covering her hand with a blanket, used the wire end of a flyswatter to beat the infant's legs, bit her leg and bashed the girl's head at least twice on the table she used two weeks later to inflict a fatal skull fracture.
In her confession, Lee told police that ever since she came to live with her in-laws she had been stricken with feelings of inadequacy, and that her inability to take care of her family had put her under a lot of stress. As she walked into court today she appeared to weaken and nearly collapsed and was supported by Assistant State Public Defenders Svetlana Taylor and Ellen Berz.
Verveer asked today that the bail be raised to $100,000, but Dane County Court Commissioner Scott McAndrew kept the bail at $50,000. McAndrew did impose a no contact provision to prevent her from seeing her son. A juvenile court order last week, though, already placed the child in protective custody and forbade Lee from seeing the boy.
Lee and her husband, Chue Vang, have lived with Vang's parents and other relatives at a Moorland Road home on Madison's south side for about the past year, Verveer said. Lee is a native of Thailand and Verveer said police were not yet sure of her immigration status. She apparently told police her green card was destroyed in a fire before she moved her from California a year ago.
Vang's mother, Doua Lee, had been the primary caregiver for the infant. But when the baby began sleeping in her parents' bedroom, Lee told investigators, she had noticed bruising on the child, but the bruises faded away over time.
On June 27, two weeks before her death, Anastasia's parents took her to Meriter Hospital, and that same day she was transferred to the UW Children's Hospital, where Dr. Barbara Knox, a child abuse specialist, diagnosed her as bruises as the result of "probable abuse."
"Frankly," Verveer said in court today, "the torture then continued pretty continuously." After Lee spent time with her daughter alone in a hospital room, the baby appeared to have new bruising the next morning, Knox told police, according to the complaint.
Lee told investigators that she picked the baby up and slammed her head on her bedroom table, using "all her might when she did it," the complaint says.
She then rolled up a blanket, stuffed some of it in the baby's mouth, then covered the baby's nose with the rest of it. She left the baby in that condition for 25 minutes as she changed and used the bathroom. When she returned to the baby she removed the blanket, but the baby had stopped breathing. She said she put the baby on the floor and administered CPR for five minutes, then took the baby to her mother-in-law.
Paramedics arrived a short time later and found the baby dead.
The Dane County Coroner listed the cause of Anastasia's death as "blunt force trauma," and a pathologist didn't detect signs of suffocation, the complaint says.
Hospital personnel told police the baby suffered a skull fracture, a bruise consistent with a human bite mark on her leg, injuries to her mouth consistent with forced bottle feeding, facial bruising, bruising on her pubic mound, and linear bruising on her legs consistent with being struck by an object.
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