Supporters proclaim innocence at hearing for Mount Vernon mom charged with killing toddler

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MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. — A Mount Vernon woman was charged Monday with killing her 15 month-old daughter.

More than a dozen family members and friends of De'Aisa Bartee showed up to court, shouting in support of her. Court officers had to calm them down to stop the shouting.

"She really loved them girls," said Destiny Bella, a family friend who'd shown up at court to express support. "She cared for my daughter. She would never do anything like that," she told PIX11 News.

"My niece loves her children," added Nadine Bailey, one of Bartee's aunts. "My prayers are with her. Her kids were always well kept. I'm here to support her."

One of the toddler's aunts called 911 around 5:30 Friday morning and reported that the child was not breathing. The toddler was cold to the touch, officials said.

When police and EMTs arrived, they found the 15 month-old in dire condition.

"There was some trauma on the infant's face," said Mt. Vernon police commissioner Ronald Fatigate on Friday, "and there were prior CPS cases at the home," he added, referring to Child protective services.

Child welfare officials were back at the home on Monday afternoon, inspecting the building with family members.

Detectives said that when they responded to a 911 call at the apartment at 210 Washington Street last Friday, Samia's body was unusually cold, possibly because the toddler had been put in a freezer for a time after she'd sustained significant trauma to the face, as well as internal bleeding.

Detectives also said that Bartee confessed to hitting her daughter seven times, after which the girl came into contact with the mother's knee.

Prosecutors asked that a $1 million bail be set for Bartee. The judge set it at a fraction of that, $50,000.

Bartee's many supporters say the lower bail for the mother of three is appropriate.

"I believe she's innocent," said her friend Alexis Brown.

"I'm a mother of my own," added Bella, the family friend. "I know my friend would never do anything like that."

Bartee's neighbors said that even though she got a much lower bail than prosecutors had requested, she may have difficulty posting it right away. She had not done so as of Monday afternoon.

Whether or not she posts bail, she has another court appearance on Aug. 17, as her case continues.