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Mother charged with murder in death of 3-year-old girl

May 4, 2021 GMT

SMYRNA, Del. (AP) — A woman who was accused along with her husband of child abuse after the remains of her 3-year-old daughter were found at a softball field in Delaware is now facing murder charges, authorities said Tuesday.

Attorney General Kathy Jennings said charges against Kristie Haas, 28, have been upgraded to include two counts of murder by abuse or neglect.

Smyrna Police Lt. Brian Donner thanked the FBI for “expertise and resources” that made the murder charges possible.

Haas and her husband, Brandon, were arrested in Pennsylvania last October following an investigation that began after the remains of a child were found at the Smyrna-Clayton Little Lass Softball fields in September 2019.

After more than a year of investigation, the child was identified as Emma Grace Cole. At the time of her death, the child lived with her parents and siblings in Smyrna, less than a mile from the ball field.

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Haas and her husband, who was Emma’s stepfather, were indicted last month on felony charges of child abuse, child endangerment and hindering prosecution involving Emma’s death. Kristie Haas also was charged with felony assault and misdemeanor offense of abusing a corpse and reckless burning.

The couple also was indicted on misdemeanor child endangerment charges involving Emma’s three siblings.

Authorities have alleged that the couple withheld food and medical care from Emma and subjected her to “torture or maltreatment,” while also subjecting her and her siblings to excessive forced exercise and inappropriate physical discipline.

Brandon Haas was released on bail after being arrested in October but was taken into custody this week for allegedly breaching the terms of his release. He faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Kristie Haas has been held at Delaware’s women’s prison since her arrest, with bond initially set at $100,000. She faced up to 55 years in prison on the initial charges against her but could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of murder.