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Report: Florida toddler dead of starvation also infected from home reeking of dog feces, urine

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Disturbing details laid bare in a 245-page report released by the State Attorney’s Office this week sheds more light on the misery baby Tayla Aleman endured before eventually succumbing to her body’s frail state in April 2016, in Loxahatchee.

Barely more than a year old, the limp body of the girl was cut short, victim to what prosecutors allege were parents – Alex Alejandro and Kristin Meyer-Alejandro – who were negligent in the child’s care, constituting a homicide, according to the report. At the time her of death by starvation, the 13-month-old was also ill with flu, E. coli, strep and staph infection in home reeking of dog urine and feces.

Both parents have been charged with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and cruelty to animals. The state attorney’s office in the 15th Judicial Circuit, led by State Attorney Dave Aronberg, is seeking the death penalty against Alejandro.

According to The Palm Beach Post, citing the report: “The ER doctor who tried to revive 13-month-old Tayla Aleman called (it) the worst starvation case he had ever seen, according to court documents released Tuesday. Tayla starved to death weighing barely 7 pounds, sheriff’s office records state. She was born weighing 9.”

The state attorney’s office report also cited Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office Detective to the Special Investigation Division Vionide Saint-Jean as stating the toddler baby had what looked like a “dark colored, circular bruise around her left eye,” along with underdeveloped teeth for a child her age.

Investigators also discovered feces smeared on various walls of the home, along with buzzing swarms of gnats and flies, with both toilets in the home being broken, with urine and feces sitting un-flushed in the bowls.

Law enforcement officials noted throughout the report they could detect the odor of urine and feces from outside the home, which appeared mostly to come from a dog’s cage in one of the children’s bedrooms, the floor of which was caked with feces, also reported by Palm Beach ABC affiliate WPBF.

“The death of this young child was senseless and avoidable,” Mike Carroll, the head of Florida’s Dept. of Children and Families, told FloridaPolitics via email on Thursday. “We continue to mourn the loss of this child and our thoughts are with her family. Our top priority is the safety and emotional health of her siblings as we continue to care for them as they recover from this family tragedy. We’re also working with our partners in law enforcement to ensure those responsible for this senseless death are held accountable.”

Carroll went on to note mandatory training for all child protective investigators and supervisors in that region of Florida was implemented as a measure to prevent missing cases like Tayla’s in the future.

“We’ve also expanded the role of supervisors in supporting the decision-making process in cases where kids are at a high risk of caregiver abuse or neglect,” he wrote. “This allows real time support and an additional level of review to ensure all appropriate protective actions are being taken as quickly as possible.”

Michael Salnick, Aleman’s defense attorney, declined comment Thursday through his secretary.

A phone call placed to Terri Touma Skiles, the prosecuting lawyer for the State Attorney’s office in the case, was not immediately returned Thursday.

The next scheduled court appearance is April 3, according to NBC affiliate WPTV.

Les Neuhaus is an all-platform journalist, with specialties in print reporting and writing. In addition to Florida Politics, he freelances as a general-assignment and breaking-news reporter for most of the major national daily newspapers, along with a host of digital media, and a human rights group. A former foreign correspondent across Africa and Asia, including the Middle East, Les covered a multitude of high-profile events in chronically-unstable nations. He’s a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, in which he served as a Security Policeman, and graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.A. in political science. He is a proud father to his daughter and enjoys spending time with his family.

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