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A mother and her boyfriend were held for trial in the beating death of 18-month-old Chester girl

A mother and her boyfriend have been ordered to stand trial in the death of the woman's 18-month-old daughter, who was beaten to death in the family's Chester apartment.

Li'Aziah Thomas, 18 months, was beaten to death Jan. 20 in her Chester home.
Li'Aziah Thomas, 18 months, was beaten to death Jan. 20 in her Chester home.Read moreFamily photo

By the time paramedics were called to the Chester apartment where 18-month-old Li’Aziah Thomas lived with her family, she had been dead for at least four to five hours after being beaten so badly that she suffered massive internal bleeding, an assistant medical examiner testified Wednesday in a Delaware County courtroom.

“I took one look at her and said, ‘This is a homicide,’” Bennett Preston said during a preliminary hearing in the murder case against the child’s mother, Kandie Meinhart, and Maurice Davis, Meinhart’s boyfriend.

Purple bruises on Li’Aziah’s back and buttocks and rigor mortis that had stiffened her limbs left no doubt that she was a homicide victim, Preston said during the three-hour hearing in Chester. “It couldn’t be anything else.”

Magisterial District Judge David Griffin held Meinhart and Davis for trial on charges of first-degree murder, third-degree murder, child endangerment, and conspiracy. The two were arrested in June in the child’s January death and are being held without bail.

Attorneys for Meinhart and Davis contended that prosecutors did not have enough evidence to prove their case and asked the judge to drop all charges. Davis’ lawyer, Michael J. Malloy, characterized the case as based on circumstantial “junk evidence.”

But Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp said the evidence against Meinhart and Davis was overwhelming. She said they were the only adults in the apartment when the child died, between 3 and 6 a.m., according to medical evidence. Both initially lied about who was in the apartment at the time and about whether Davis lived there, the prosecutor said.

Paramedic Susan Boran testified that when she arrived at the apartment after receiving a call for a child in cardiac arrest, she saw Meinhart preforming CPR on her daughter even though the child was no longer alive. . When she told Meinhart her daughter was dead, the paramedic said, the mother shed no tears. “I didn’t kill her,” she quoted Meinhart as saying.

Shortly afterward, Boran said, she watched Meinhart use a cellphone to call the child’s father and overheard her say to him, “Your bitch is dead.”

The child’s father, Anthony Thomas, attended the hearing but declined to comment.

The arrests of Meinhart, 31, and Davis, 29, came more than five months after Li’Aziah’s death, and a month after Meinhart appeared on the nationally televised “Steve Wilkos Show” to profess her innocence. During the show, Wilkos told the audience Meinhart had passed a polygraph.

“The facts of this case are truly horrific: A mother and her boyfriend are literally responsible for beating to death this defenseless baby,” Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said at the time of the arrests.

“Our investigation found that baby Li’Aziah suffered multiple blunt force injuries during her last night of life from the very people who are supposed to protect her.”