Charges upgraded against aunt who allegedly pushed 3-year-old nephew into Lake Michigan at Navy Pier

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, October 4, 2022
Aunt accused of pushing nephew into lake now charged with murder
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Three-year-old Josiah Brown was allegedly pushed into the lake near Navy Pier by his aunt, Victoria Moreno. She is now facing first degree murder charges.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The woman charged with pushing her nephew into Lake Michigan is now an accused murderer. Charges for Victoria Moreno were upgraded and she returned to court on Tuesday.

The retelling of the circumstances that prosecutors say led to the drowning death of 3-year-old Josiah Brown were no easier to listen to the second time around. But that is indeed what happened in court Tuesday as his aunt, Victoria Moreno, appeared before a judge once again, this time charged with first-degree murder.

SEE MORE: 3-year-old 'bundle of joy' pushed into lake near Chicago's Navy Pier by relative, sources say

"The defendant looked around once more and with no one in the immediate area, she herself climbed over the chain, crouched behind the 3-year-old, straddled him and with both hands pushed him off the platform, dropping 6.5 feet into Lake Michigan," Asst. State's Attorney Anne McCord Rodgers said.

Pulled from the water after 30 minutes, the little boy lived for six days before he died on September 25. In court, prosecutors told the judge that Moreno, who took Josiah from his Des Plaines home without permission, initially denied she even knew the child and had only seen him fall in.

"This entire incident, including the defendant pushing the child into Lake Michigan, was captured by surveillance video at Navy Pier," McCord Rodgers said.

According to her defense attorneys, Moreno has been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder, a condition for which she takes medication. But will that diagnosis impact her case going forward?

"If you are insane and you can prove it, as a defendant you can avoid those charges," ABC7 Legal Consultant Gil Soffer said. "If your mental illness makes it impossible for you to have formed the required intent to have intended to hurt somebody or to have known you were going to hurt somebody that is a defense, but not every mental illness rises to that level and it may not be enough to get her off these charges."