FOR MUCH of Seanita Brown's four years of life, she was beaten so severely that she suffered a broken leg and fractures to her ribs and collarbone.
Seanita's suffering ended July 16, when doctors at Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania declared her dead from internal bleeding caused by a laceration to her liver. Her body also bore human bite marks.
Her alleged abuser, Edward Golphin, 26, was held for trial yesterday on counts of murder, aggravated assault and related offenses. Golphin was the boyfriend of Seanita's mother, Josephita Brown, 25, who tearfully testified against him during a preliminary hearing.
While being questioned by Assistant District Attorney Lorraine Donnelly, Brown said she had lied about how her daughter was injured because she feared the city Department of Human Services would take the child away.
Brown, of Southwest Philadelphia, said she and Golphin even coached Seanita to lie to city social workers about how she broke her leg a month before her death.
The cover story for Golphin was that the child had fallen off her scooter, said Brown, who in September pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and related counts and agreed to testify against Golphin. She and Golphin are being held without bail.
Brown, who several times was told by Municipal Judge Karen Y. Simmons to speak up, testified that the night Seanita died, she and Golphin argued about her infidelity, and that led him to beat the child with a belt buckle.
"There were several components. She was scared of him, she wanted to be with him and there was a financial component as well," Donnelly said after the hearing, explaining Brown's motive for lying to protect Golphin. "The bottom line is, she didn't have that maternal instinct. She should have protected her daughter."
Golphin's defense attorney, Michael Wallace, said his client is being accused of a murder that Brown committed. He cited records from DHS and hospital visits in which, he said, the child accused Brown of hurting her.
"I don't know what her motive was," Wallace said of Brown. "But what motive could there be for beating a child? I don't know what's wrong with her."
Donnelly said DHS was contacted about Seanita a couple of times, including when day care officials reported the broken leg.
DHS spokeswoman Alicia Taylor said confidentiality laws prevented her from commenting about any case it investigates.