Man charged with murder in death of Lake Station toddler

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Antonio Harris II is charged with murder in the beating death of his girlfriend's daughter, Nieyely Lopez, 2.

A 19-year-old man is charged with murder in the death of a 2-year-old girl from Lake Station, Ind., whom he was babysitting.

Antonio Harris II was identified by police as one of two people who flagged down firefighters near 1500 Lake Street in Gary, Ind., around 9:30 a.m. Saturday and handed them an unconscious child, who was wrapped in a blanket. Crews performed CPR as they rushed Nieyely Lopez, 2, to Methodist Hospital, where she was pronounced dead 15 minutes later.

Police dispatched to the hospital discovered bruising on the child's lips and front neck, as well as bruises and redness to her chest and face. A preliminary investigation at the autopsy revealed massive internal injuries.

The girl died of blunt force trauma, according to the Lake County coroner, who ruled her death a homicide.

Police said Harris, who is dating the girl's mother, was watching the toddler on Saturday morning at the Lake Station home. He gave detectives a false name initially, according to a statement from the Lake Station Police Department, but eventually said he and the child's mother smoked marijuana early Saturday morning before she left for work, leaving the child in his care. He said he went to bed and when he awoke found the girl in the living room, police said, and she was not breathing.

Instead of taking the girl to the Lake Station ambulance/fire station just a few blocks from the home, he called a relative to drive the girl to Gary, police said, because he was "freaked out" and had active warrants for his arrest.

Harris is charged with murder, neglect of a dependent and battery. He was being held at the Lake Station Police Department until he is transferred to Lake County Jail.

Officials said Harris has a criminal record that includes battery.

Nieyley's father, Salvador Lopez, spoke with police at the family's home but declined to talk to reporters. Neighbors said they rarely saw Nieyely's mother or her boyfriend outside.
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homicide investigationchild killedbeating deathLake StationGary
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