New Details in 13-Month-Old's Death - WSET.com - ABC13

New Details in 13-Month-Old's Death

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Roanoke Co., VA - There are still many questions Thursday revolving around the tragic death of 13-month-old Veralee Craft.

Craft died Tuesday morning more than a day after she was rushed to the hospital with severe head trauma.

The boyfriend of the baby's mother Preston King, 27, is charged with child abuse.

According to family members, doctors told them there was evidence the baby was significantly abused three times in the past month.

In the latest incident, doctors believe she was beat on the top of the head and punched in the face, resulting in skull fractures. They say she was also severely shaken.

Doctors told family members both legs were broken just below the knees in a separate incident.

In a third incident, the child's arm and shoulder were broken.

Those doctors told the family it appears the earlier injuries occurred between two and three weeks before this latest incident.

Investigators won't confirm this information, saying in these high profile cases, giving too much information can cause problems with the prosecution.

"It's going to be hard for a court to seat a jury that is not already been privy to a lot of the information. And if it gets bad enough, we may end up having to move the trial to another part of the state," said Lt. Chuck Mason with the Roanoke County Police Department.

More light is also being shed on Veralee's home life. Her mother, Chelsey Marie Lawrence, was working at a store in Valley View Mall and was using King as a babysitter. Officials say King was Lawrence's boyfriend.

It was at a Roanoke County home King shared with his mother, and another woman, that Veralee was so severely injured.

Family members were also told that after Veralee was beaten in this home, she was put to bed where she stopped breathing.

An autopsy is still being performed, but the family was told that Veralee probably would have survived had she received medical care soon after that beating.

So why hasn't anyone been charged with murder?  Roanoke County Police have a valid concern.

"It's an article of faith with us that we have one chance to get it right, and so we try to make sure we do it right the first time," said Mason.

Investigators continue to work on this case and say more charges could be coming.

While those charges could come directly from the Commonwealth's Attorney, more than likely any more charges filed, whether against King or anyone else found responsible, will go through the grand jury process.

Veralee's funeral has not yet been set. In the meantime, the family needs help for the funeral costs. If you'd like to help, donations can be left at Tharp Funeral Home in Lynchburg.

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