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Testimony: Alleged killer beat child to punish mother

A Southwest Philadelphia man was held for trial on murder Tuesday in the beating death last July of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter.

A Southwest Philadelphia man was held for trial on murder Tuesday in the beating death last July of his girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter.

Edward Golphin, 26, was ordered by Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Karen Y. Simmons to stand trial in the July 16 slaying of Seanita Brown.

The chief witness against Golphin was Seanita's mother, Josephita Brown, 25, who was charged alone last July in her daughter's death.

But on Tuesday, Brown was back in court, testifying for Assistant District Attorney Lorraine Donnelly under an agreement in which Brown pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy and child endangerment in exchange for testifying against her boyfriend of four years.

Guided through her testimony by Donnelly, Brown spoke in a barely audible monotone interrupted only when she asked "for a minute" to wipe the tears running down her face.

Brown described a tortured relationship with Golphin in which physical violence against Seanita and brother Sean, now 7, was present almost from the start.

Brown said Golphin and she argued about her "cheating" with other men - she admitted she did - and for spending too much time on the phone with girlfriends. And when they argued, Brown testified, Golphin took out his anger on Seanita.

During her last year alive, Brown said, Golphin beat her several times and once broke the shin bone of her left leg. Brown said she told Seanita's day care staff the child broke her leg in a scooter accident.

The center staff, however, contacted the city Department of Human Services after the child said her mother broke her leg. It was partly because of that report that Brown was charged first after she and Golphin brought the lifeless 4-year-old into Children's Hospital shortly before 3 a.m. on July 16.

Philadelphia Assistant Medical Examiner Edwin Lieberman testified that Seanita bled to death internally after a blow to her abdomen nearly bisected her liver. Lieberman said almost half the child's volume of blood had filled the abdominal cavity.

In addition to multiple cuts and bruises on the girl's head and face, Lieberman testified, Seanita had three fractured ribs and a collarbone that had healed, six newly fractured ribs and her recently healed leg bone had been re-broken.

Donnelly said that three bite marks on the child's body matched a photo taken of Golphin's teeth. Golphin refused a court order to submit to a dental impression.

In questioning Brown, defense attorney Michael Wallace focused on statements she gave detectives for the Special Victims and Homicide Units in which she admitted lying or telling partial truths.

Wallace also questioned Brown about why she stayed with Golphin for four years - her son Sean went to live with her mother - and then had a child with him, a daughter Emirah, now 11 months.

"I loved him, and he had nowhere else to go and I needed his money to care for my children," Brown replied.

215-854-2985 @joeslobo