A Florida mother has been arrested after authorities say she starved her twin babies, causing one to die from malnutrition. Delaila Pino Lasalle, 23, is facing charges including aggravated manslaughter of a child and neglect of a child, officials said.
First responders arrived at a home in Palm Beach County, Florida, on March 17, 2022, in response to a call for help regarding an infant girl, according to the partially redacted arrest affidavit. When police arrived, officers found fire rescue personnel trying to save the one-month-old baby’s life outside the front door of the residence. The child was unresponsive, not breathing, and was without a pulse. The child was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
When police spoke with Lasalle, she allegedly claimed to have found her daughter unresponsive during a routine feeding.
“D/S Banuchi advised [redacted] was discovered by Delaila when she woke up to feed her,” deputies said in the affidavit. Lasalle ran to her mother who called 911 and began performing CPR, guided by the dispatcher.
After an investigation, authorities now blame Lasalle for the girl’s death. The newborn had some medical problems after a difficult birth but initially recovered. Following the newborn’s recovery, Lasalle failed to follow through on taking proper care of her, according to the affidavit.
The girl, a fraternal twin, was born on Feb.5 via C-section, authorities said. She was born with “pneumonia, upper respiratory distress, a left cleft lip, and a ‘hole in her heart.'” She had to stay in the newborn ICU for about two weeks before discharge. According to deputies, Lasalle visited Florida from Puerto Rico in December to visit her mother for the holidays, but she had to stay longer because she suffered sharp stomach pains during pregnancy at the beginning of January.
All told, doctors said the child initially seemed to be doing well after leaving the ICU, but there were some issues: Lasalle’s alleged “behavior” and failure to show up to a follow-up appointment.
For example, a doctor who treated the newborn at birth said she was admitted to the newborn ICU because of respiratory issues, which cleared up within a week. Initially tube fed, she was eventually bottle-fed without problems, and they let her go because she met the criteria: steady body temperature, breathing normally without help, and consistently eating and gaining weight.
“Doctor Reddy stated that he did have concerns about the mother’s behavior as she refused to listen to the instructions and recommendations made by the medical staff,” the affidavit said. Another doctor said that the family did not show up to a follow-up appointment scheduled for March 8.
A different doctor described seeing the twins on Feb. 25.
“Doctor Chen confirmed that [redacted] was small but appeared to be doing well,” authorities said. “Doctor Chen confirmed that [redacted] had a cleft lip and a hole in the upper atriums of heart, which is ‘nothing significant.’ According to Doctor Chen, [redacted] was ‘sucking, swallowing, and breathing just fine. Baby looked fine. Was growing, developing properly for age.'”
She noted normal vital signs and “no active concerns.” Dr Chen allegedly said she was told that the children were breastfeeding and being given Vitamin D. In the context of breastfeeding, Lasalle allegedly said that the daughter was not having issues with being able to suck, swallow and breathe. According to investigators, however, the doctor voiced surprise on hearing from an investigator that the girl had lost weight when measured shortly after her death.
Another doctor later determined the child died from homicide by malnutrition.
Lasalle allegedly said she took the “night shift” when taking care of the twins and claimed to have fed them at midnight, 2 a.m., and 4:30 a.m. on the morning of March 7. She found the girl at 6 a.m. in the same position she left her in and noted she was “softer” than usual. But the child did not move or latch on as normal during breastfeeding, she allegedly said.
“It was at this time, Delaila realized that something was wrong,” authorities wrote.
But a Department of Children and Families Protective Investigator on March 23, 2022, described allegations of drug use and domestic disputes in the home. She voiced plans to likely take the children from the residence for their safety. She followed through on that.
According to authorities, the DCF agent picked up a male child, whose name is redacted in the complaint, on March 24 and said he lost a significant amount of weight. She forwarded photographs to the PBSO affiant, who noted the child lost a lot of weight and appeared yellow in color. A doctor determined the boy was suffering from “severe starvation.”
Authorities noted that at six weeks of age, the male twin weighed three-quarters of a pound less than he did at birth.
“Consistent history informs us that the mother gave inconsistent statements with respect to how [redacted] was being fed,” the affidavit stated.
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