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Stepfather accused of killing 3-year-old girl to appear in court

ROCKAWAY PARK, Queens — A man is set to face a judge Wednesday on charges he allegedly killed his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter.

Mark Jenkins was charged with the murder of 3-year-old Bella Edwards in Queens.

Mark Jenkins, 32, is charged with second-degree depraved murder and first-degree depraved assault after Bella Edwards was found unconscious and unresponsive in their Queens home.

Police were called about 6 p.m. Monday to an apartment on Beach 105th Street near Shore Front Parkway and found Jenkins performing CPR on the child.

According to authorities, Jenkins was the only adult with Edwards and her 3-month-old brother for several hours while their mother was out.

Jenkins is considered by family to be the girl's stepfather and is the biological father of the 3-month-old boy, who has been removed from the home for now.

Officials said Edwards' mother left home about 7:30 a.m. Monday to go to the doctor and returned home at 6 p.m.

Jenkins left home with the children at about 2:30 p.m. and returned at about 4:30 p.m., according to video surveillance obtained by investigators, NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

At that time, Edwards appeared to be in "some kind of distress," Boyce said.

Investigators believe the girl endured the fatal abuse during that two-hour window, Boyce said. The medical examiner ruled that Edwards died of blunt force trauma to her stomach with other medical studies pending.

A police source told PIX11 News that Edwards' body showed signs of trauma consistent with abuse. The source said that she was covered in bruises, had new injuries and several old injuries that were healing, and there were signs of sexual abuse.

Jenkins, an ex-con who served prison time for shooting a man in the Bronx in 2004 and for an assault case in 2002, was living with Edwards, her baby brother and their mother in a Rockaway Park apartment, police said.

Detectives had been called to their home twice for domestic incidents -- last June and in January of this year, Boyce said. Both were verbal arguments that were settled through the mediation of responding detectives.

After his arrest, Jenkins "almost immediately" requested an attorney and he is not talking to detectives, Boyce said.

In a message to PIX11 News, Edwards' mother remembered her daughter as "friendly, beautiful, affectionate, smart and lovable and the best daughter anyone can ask for."

"She loved and was very affectionate sister to her baby brother Logan," she wrote. "She was loved by many who came to know her."

The New York City Administration for Children's Services is also investigating and has taken Edwards' 3-month-old brother away from the family until the case moves forward.

A vigil is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday outside the apartment building where Edwards died. Her mother has asked well-wishers to bring pink and red balloons and candles. Those were Edwards' favorite colors.