2-year-old allegedly thrown against chair, wall dies; mother's boyfriend charged with murder

LARGO, Fla - A 2-year-old Largo  girl left with "no independent brain function" has died after being taken off life support. The mother's boyfriend faces a first-degree murder charge.

Lt. Stephen M. Slaughter said Sunday night that 2-year-old Ananhie Fernandez was brought to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg by her, Karina Mora, and Mora's live-in boyfriend, Joel Cruz, 27, around 3 a.m. Sunday.

The girl had severe injuries to the chest cavity and no independent brain function at the hospital. Police said Mora and Cruz, of 5130 Foxbridge Circle, Apt. 87, were interviewed and Cruz admitted to throwing the child against a chair and a wall.  

Cruz was initially arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse, but is now facing a 1st-degree murder charge following Fernandez's death.

"[A] subsequent interview with Mr. Cruz resulted in information to support that he in fact caused the blunt trauma injuries to the child which ultimately resulted in the child's death," Slaughter said. "[Fernandez's] specific cause of death will be determined by the medical examiners office."

Cruz is in the Pinellas County Jail.

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