Visalia Mom Arrested Five Months after Toddler's Death - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Visalia Mom Arrested Five Months after Toddler's Death

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By Norma Yuriar

Tulare County, Calif.  (KMPH News) - Five months after the death of a Visalia toddler the child's own mother is now in custody in connection with her murder.  Nicole Lee was booked into the Bob Wiley Detention Facility in Tulare County Tuesday afternoon.  The 29-year old is the second person arrested for the death of three and a half year old Natalynn Miller.

Rescuers found the child unresponsive and not breathing on March 28, 2009 at the Visalia apartment where Natalynn lived in with her mother and mother's boyfriend, Ryan Jones.

Jones remains in custody.  He was charged with one count of murder and one count of child abuse after an autopsy report revealed the little girl died of blunt force trauma to her head and body.  Now, the Tulare County District Attorney's office also believes the child's mother had something to do with it.

Lee is facing four charges including child endangerment with a special allegation of willful harm or injury resulting in death, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.

Family members tell KMPH News Attorney Mark Coleman will represent Lee.  Coleman is also defending Jones who has long said the toddler's death was unintentional.

"This is a terrible accident, and we want people to keep an open mind," said Coleman during an interview with KMPH News on March 27th.  "We don't know what happened in this case yet.  Mr. Jones is claiming that he is innocent and I believe he's innocent."

The Visalia Police Department suspects it was Jones who beat Natalynn to death while he was supposed to be taking care of her.

Since Natalynn's passing her father has kept her room untouched.  Her stuffed animals still sit on her bed.

"Today I found out that Nicole has been arrested in connection with the death of our daughter," said Troy Miller.  "My prayers are that justice will be served for Natalynn and I am encouraged to see that the authorities are moving forward in this case."

Lee's bail is set at $200,000.

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