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DeKalb mom charged in toddler's death

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Updated: 2/26 9:43 am
DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- DeKalb County police say a 21-year-old mother is facing felony murder charges in the death of her 3-year-old child.

Lela Bemis was found Sunday night at the Landmark at Mountain View apartment complex in Stone Mountain.

"This was a sad loss of a helpless 3-year-old child," said DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander.

Police said it all started with an argument between the child's mother Meriel Bemis and her boyfriend. The argument prompted her boyfriend to leave the home. That's when officers said Bemis called her boyfriend and told him the child was unconscious.

"Once he returned, she was in there hovered over the child. He could see that the child was not responsive. He tried to revive her but couldn't," Alexander said.

Police said Lela was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. Officers aren't saying how she died, but after questioning Bemis, they decided to charge her with felony murder.

Neighbors were stunned to learn that a mother is accused of ending her child's life.

"I don't understand how somebody can hurt their child. That's just extreme," said neighbor Jasmine Lockett.

Police aren't saying if the argument played a role in the child's death.

"Is it fair to say the baby was in a healthy state prior to (the boyfriend) leaving?" asked WSB-TV Channel 2's Tom Jones.

"I think that would be a fair statement to make," Alexander replied.

Police said an autopsy will determine how Lela died. Bemis is expected to make her first court appearance Tuesday.

Video: WSB-TV Atlanta
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