MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. --The Westchester County woman arrested in the death of her daughter faced a judge for the first time Monday.
Mount Vernon police arrested 26-year-old Dasia Bartee after finding her 15-month-old girl unresponsive Friday morning, and family members shouted, "We love you, D" and "We're here for you" as she entered court.
Samia Yusef was found unresponsive in a bedroom in her Washington Street apartment around 5:30 a.m., and first responders unsuccessfully attempted to perform life-saving measures.
"We are mourning, you know, we have to bury a child now," Bartee's sister said over the weekend. "It's nothing that anyone would ever expect to do, and my sister just loved her."
Family members rushed from the courthouse after hearing the assistant district attorney tell the judge that the woman intentionally struck the baby in the back seven or eight times with a closed fist after she was crying, causing lumbar fractures and internal bleeding.
"My friend is innocent," said a family friend, who didn't want to be identified. "She love her kids. She would never do anything like that."
The assistant district attorney said the child died "a painful and horrible death."
"God bless her, that's all I can say," said a family member, who wished not to be identified. "May God be with her."
A public defender described her as "an excellent mother" with two other children and that she is "devastated and heartbroken."
"I wasn't there in the house, but like I said, I love my niece and I'm praying for her," Bartee's aunt, Nadine Bailey, said. "And I know she loves the children."
Bartee's family was clearly upset over Yosef's death, but they were shocked when Bartee was charged with manslaughter.
"She made sure they were fed, everything, she's a wonderful mother," the friend said. "Like I said, she is innocent until proven guilty."
The initial investigation found the toddler had been dead for at least several hours before authorities were called. Authorities say the girl also suffered trauma to her face.
The two other children, ages 6 and 9, were removed from the apartment and placed into Child Protective Services, and prosecutors say the family is known to CPS.
Bail was set at $50,000, and Bartee was ordered to stay away from her other daughters.