VALPARAISO | Valparaiso resident Elizabeth Lozano denied charges Tuesday of abusing her 4-year-old son badly enough that he had to undergo surgery to relieve pressure on his brain.
"I'm not the one who did this," she said during her initial court appearance. "I just want to know how my son is."
Just moments earlier, Porter County Deputy Prosecutor Cheryl Polarek argued Lozano should continue to be held without bond in the event the boy dies and charges are upgraded.
Lozano responded to the news by turning and staring at Angela Terrell, a neighbor, who also is charged in the child abuse case.
Senior Judge Raymond Kickbush, who was sitting in for Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper, approved the unusual request of no bond for Lozano, while setting a $25,000 cash bond for Terrell.
The women, who live at 701 McCord Road, each were charged with felony neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury.
Lozano, 24, was further charged with felony battery causing serious bodily injury, and Terrell, 43, was charged with a lesser count of felony battery to a child younger than 14.
The alleged abuse came to light Oct. 23 when a child advocate noticed extensive bruising on the boy's face and body during a court hearing in Lake County, according to charging information.
The boy was taken to the Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus in Merrillville, where it was discovered he had bruising, blistering and multiple bruises on his face, back, arms, legs and buttocks. Police said the boy, who had a bleeding wound on his buttock and burns on his right arm, was transported to Indianapolis and was placed on ventilator following surgery.
The women admit in a series of recovered text messages that they had beaten the boy and deprived him of food, clothing and sleep, police said.
Both women were awarded the public defender services of attorney Ken Elwood's office Tuesday after telling the court they have limited or no income, and live with support provided by Housing Opportunities. Each also was ordered to have no contact with the child or his two siblings.
Trials were scheduled for March 31 in both cases, with preliminary hearings Dec. 23 and Jan. 28.