CAMBRIA COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — A woman was charged with general criminal homicide following an investigation into the death of 14-month-old Gianna Rice-Lewis in April.
On Thursday, charges were filed against Veronica L. Lewis, 38, whose child died in the ER from massive blood loss caused by blunt force trauma abuse. She also faces felony aggravated assault and endangering the welfare of a child charges, according to Cambria County District Attorney Greg Neugebauer.
Johnstown police spoke with a witness who said Veronica complained about Gianna crying all day. At one point, he allegedly heard her yell to Gianna, “why you keep crying? All you do is f—- cry,” police noted.
The witness then went on to tell police he heard a thump downstairs. He asked Veronica what the notice was from, and she said, “Gianna dropped her bottle,” according to the affidavit. The witness said he didn’t hear Gianna crying anymore.
Veronica brought Gianna upstairs to the bedroom where the witness was watching TV, and he told police Gianna’s face was against Veronica’s shoulder. She was not crying at the time, and Veronica placed Gianna in the playpen with her bottle and left the room. The witness said he looked out the window, not realizing she had left, and Veronica’s car was gone.
A few hours later, a relative of Veronica knocked on the front door and said she came to pick up Gianna and take her to her house. The witness went back upstairs to get Gianna.
When he approached Gianna, he found her unresponsive with bruising on her nose, according to charges filed. He also noticed blood and white speckles coming from her nose, and her lips were white. He said he immediately called 911 and began CPR until EMS and the Johnstown Fire Department arrived to take her to Conemaugh hospital.
The witness allegedly tried to get ahold of Veronica, though she wouldn’t respond. She never came to the hospital to check on her daughter who was later pronounced dead. Neugebauer said that if Gianna had received medical attention hours sooner, she would have had a chance of survival.
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Veronica was denied bail and is currently lodged in Cambria County Prison.
Johnstown police were assisted in this investigation by the Cambria County Coroner’s Office and the Cambria County District Attorney’s Office.
“This is a true heartbreaking tragedy that cut a young life way too short,” Neugebauer said. “Law enforcement remains committed to ensuring that justice for young Gianna is attained. JPD and assisting entities deserve a lot of credit for effectively investigating this matter and building a prosecutable case.”