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Published: Saturday, 11/18/2006

Girlfriend guilty in toddler's death

BLADE STAFF

MONROE - A woman was convicted of murder yesterday in Monroe County Circuit Court for killing her boyfriend's 17-month-old daughter.

A jury returned its verdict at 11:30 a.m., three hours after beginning deliberations in the case against Sonya Moussaed.

Moussaed, 27, was convicted in the death of Gracie Simmons, the daughter of Joseph Simmons and Holly Preston.

Moussaed was Mr. Simmons' live-in girlfriend.

The toddler was taken to Mercy Memorial Hospital, Monroe, April 19 after police were called to the child's home and found her unresponsive.

The defense claimed Gracie's injuries were caused by a fall down the stairs, but the prosecution said the injuries, which included bruises on her back, neck, and scalp, pointed to child abuse.

Investigators said at the time that the child had multiple injuries, including "one significant [head] injury that was catastrophic."

Judge Joseph A. Costello, Jr., set sentencing for Dec. 20 and ordered Moussaed to remain in jail without bond.

She is expected to receive life in prison without a chance of parole.



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