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Trial for dead toddler's father takes a twist | Crime

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Trial for dead toddler's father takes a twist

Bartow, Florida -- A woman, who pleaded no contest last year in the beating death of her son, now says she doesn't remember giving police particular information about her husband's alleged role in the toddler's death.

Ina Brown pleaded no contest last April to charges of aggravated manslaughter and neglect of a child, agreeing also to testify against her husband, Marcus Brown, of Lakeland.

Prosecutors say Deondray Ashe, 2, died after Marcus Brown beat him with a belt, nearly 30 times in June 2010.

Investigators say there may have been a red flag two months earlier when DCF first received a report of possible child abuse from the Lakeland Regional Medical Center.

Ashe had two fractured ribs then. Lakeland Police closed the case without charges, saying the parents provided a plausible explanation.

A DCF caseworker spent the next month monitoring the family, according to circuit administrator Ann Berne, but by the end of May, the DCF case was closed.

In June, Ashe died.

At the time, a DCF caseworker blamed Brown but also pointed a finger at the boy's mother, Ina.

"She was a witness to the beatings of the child. She's aware of the whole circumstance and has failed to protect the children," they said at the time.

Ina Brown was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

But now, two years after the child's death, Brown testified that she doesn't recall telling police what investigators say she told them.

The trial continues this week.

Marcus Brown is charged with first degree murder. He faces the death penalty if convicted. 


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