A year and a half after a 2-year-old girl was killed at an unlicensed Phoenix babysitting business, two people have been charged in the girl's death.
Allison Clement and Ryan Reed, the couple who ran the babysitting service, had previously been charged in Savannah Cross' death, but those charges were dropped in September.
Cross died in December 2012, and according to court documents had "extensive trauma to include deep tissue bruising, pattern bruising, swelling and abrasions from head to toe, front to back."
Medical staff described her bruises as "too many to count."
One of the girl's eyes also had significant injuries, which police said likely caused a permanent loss of vision.
Reed, then 27, admitted to police that he would "discipline" the girl, usually by smacking her, or flicking her with his finger, according to court documents. Police said Clement admitted to knowing of this.
Reed described the fatal blows to police, saying the girl was on the floor when he accidentally tripped on her while trying to walk over her, as he "inadvertently kicked" her with his first foot, and "stomped" her in the abdomen with his second, according to court documents.
"The victim immediately curled up with her arms around her abdomen and spent the rest of the evening in this posture," according to the probable-cause statement. "Reed said that he ultimately picked her up and placed her in her playpen that evening and heard her making groaning sounds throughout the night."
Instead of seeking medical attention for Savannah, they found her unresponsive at their home -- near 45th Street and Roeser Road -- the next morning.
Police had told us the girl was in the care of these babysitters for about a month leading up to her death because her mother "needed the help."
Months later, charges were dropped against Reed and Clement. According to court filings, the medical examiner's office was very slow to get some tests done, and a deputy Maricopa County attorney assigned to the case repeatedly told the judge that these tests would be in any day -- which turned out to not be true.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery issued the following statement yesterday, in announcing that Reed and Clement were indicted on the new charges by a grand jury:
"Despite the initial obstacles to prosecuting this case, our commitment to seek justice for this little girl never wavered. We now have the necessary investigative findings to be able to move forward with criminal charges and hold people accountable for her tragic, senseless death."
Despite the initial charges being dropped at the end of September, it wasn't long before Reed was back in jail. Phoenix police were able to gather evidence showing Savannah had been sexually abused.
Court documents cited specific DNA evidence and injuries to Savannah to support the charges. The medical examiner's testing also revealed "critically elevated levels of methamphetamine" in Savannah's system.
Reed was arrested on those charges in December, and was ordered to be held without bond.
Now, both Clement and Reed have been charged with second-degree murder and child abuse. Reed still faces additional charges of sexual conduct with a minor.
Got a tip? Send it to: Matthew Hendley.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.