Toddler's Chili Powder Death Was Murder: DA

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on January 11, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Amanda Sorensen was charged with murder after her boyfriend's daughter died from ingesting chili powder. At an arraignment Thursday, Sorenson pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On Sunday morning, police got a call that a 2-year-old was suffering a seizure at a home in Apple Valley, California. The child was immediately rushed to the hospital for treatment.

The girl, Joileen Garcia, died in the hospital and it appears the cause of her death was ingesting chili powder. Sorensen was allegedly caring for her at the time and authorities believe that what happened was murder.

The charges against Amanda Sorensen are both murder and assault of a child causing death, reports Los Angeles' KNBC-TV. While the court documents don't mention any degrees of murder, it seems likely that Sorensen is charged with first-degree murder.

The complaint lists the crime as murder and states that Sorensen acted "with malice aforethought." That phrasing is an old fashioned way to say "premeditated."

First degree murder is generally defined as killing that is premeditated, deliberate, or planned. It doesn't matter how much planning occurred, one minute or one year, so long as the killer intended to cause death before acting.

Alternatively, second-degree murder is killing that is not premeditated or that is caused by reckless action that shows lack of concern for human life.

The degrees of murder indicate the severity of the crimes and as a result, the potential punishment. First degree murder carries a potentially longer sentence than second degree murder.

While it's known that Sorensen was with the child, and that the child suffered a seizure and died after ingesting chili powder, it's still unclear what prompted prosecutors to charge her with murder.

So far, authorities have not released information about a possible motive or details from the incident, according to the Associated Press. That information will likely come out at trial.

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