Darisabel Baez
Darisabel Baez (Submitted photo)

Editor's note: This story was originally published Aug. 6, 2008. Read the latest on Harve Johnson's death warrant and his appeal for a stay. View a documentary about the first responders who tried to save Darisabel and how the case affected them.


York City Police Officer Linda Daniels remembers finding a badly beaten, unresponsive 2-year-old baby lying naked on the kitchen floor.

There were bruises dotting Darisabel Baez's body, Daniels recalled. The red ones were new and fresh and were mixed in with older purple and black marks.

Darisabel's mother, Neida Baez, was lying at her feet, sobbing and crying, Daniels said.

Two-year-old Darisabel Baez is seen in this undated photo provided by York Police. Baez, who was severely beaten with a video game controller by her
Two-year-old Darisabel Baez is seen in this undated photo provided by York Police. Baez, who was severely beaten with a video game controller by her mother's boyfriend, died from her injuries. (Submitted photo)

"The child was covered in bruises from head to toe," Daniels testified at a preliminary hearing Tuesday.

Darisabel died about eight hours after being beaten inside her York home. She was pronounced dead at 9:28 p.m. April 6 at Hershey Medical Center. Neida Baez, 20, and her boyfriend, Harve L. Johnson, 26, are charged with murder.

Forensic Pathologist Dr. Wayne Ross detailed a brutal and savage beating in his autopsy report. Darisabel had multiple traumatic injuries all over her body, including her head, brain, chest, heart and liver.

"The beating was extensive and indicative of torture," Ross wrote.

After a nearly two-hour hearing, York County District Justice Richard Martin found sufficient evidence for Johnson to stand trial on murder charges. He also upheld murder charges for Neida Baez. The two are expected to be arraigned in county court Sept. 5.

Police allege Johnson beat Darisabel with a video-game console's controller for about an hour inside the couple's home in the 700 block of West Philadelphia Street as Neida Baez did nothing.

Johnson admitted to police that he beat Darisabel after becoming upset about her dirty diaper exploding on the floor.

Elizabeth Neida Baez, 19,  is charged with criminal homicide. Her daughter, Darisabel, was killed in April.
Elizabeth Neida Baez, 19, is charged with criminal homicide. Her daughter, Darisabel, was killed in April. (FILE)
He also told investigators he did not want to call for help because police would see the bruises he left on Darisabel's arms and buttocks from hitting her with the cord of the controller.

Chief assistant public defender Clasina Mahoney asked Martin to drop murder charges against Neida Baez, saying the mother tried to stop the beatings and was scared Johnson would hurt her or beat the child more if she intervened. Johnson has a history of beating the baby and the mother, according to Mahoney and police.

Neida Baez tried several times to get inside the room where her baby was being beaten, according to her statement to police.

"(Darisabel's) crying. She's crying. I'm telling him to stop, just leave her alone," Neida Baez told Detective Matt Luchko.

Harve L. Johnson is charged with criminal homicide. Police allege he beat a 2-year-old child to death with a video game controller.
Harve L. Johnson is charged with criminal homicide. Police allege he beat a 2-year-old child to death with a video game controller. (FILE)

At one point, Neida Baez said, she got into the room where she found Darisabel cuddled up in a corner crying with a lump on her head and a cut above her eye, according to Luchko. Johnson told Neida Baez she would just make things "worse" if she didn't leave.

Mahoney said Baez was afraid, tried to stop the beatings and attempted to revive her child, including using CPR.

York County Prosecutor Chris Moore argued Neida Baez should have done more to protect a helpless child.

Moore also pointed out Neida Baez initially told police her daughter was injured from falling down stairs. The mother only changed her story after Daniels told her she didn't believe her.

"She did nothing. She did not call police or attempt to stop it," Moore said.

In his ruling, Martin said Neida Baez did not do enough. He said he did not consider Johnson's words to "make it worse" a threat. Martin said it wasn't as if Johnson said he would "kill" Neida Baez or "throw her down the steps."

"As a parent, we all have a duty to our children," Martin said.

ONLINE

Read past York Daily Record / Sunday News coverage of Darisabel Baez's death at inyork.com/ydr. Search for "Darisabel."

EXCHANGE

Do you think Neida Baez should stand trial for her daughter's murder? Log on to exchange.ydr.com, click on "Countywide and statewide discussion" and click on "Darisabel Baez's death - should Neida stand trial?" You can also add to the discussion topic "Toddler beaten to death....anyone remember Aleta Bailey?"