LAS VEGAS (AP) — A man and woman accused of leaving a pregnant 17-year-old girl to care for their sickly 3-year-old daughter months before the child was found dead in a Las Vegas-area home pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and child abuse charges.
An indictment filed on June 24 alleges the couple cooperated with each other and conspired to abandon their “medically fragile” 3-year-old in the care of the pregnant teen, without needed medication, breathing treatments and doctor’s care.
The child’s corpse was found April 2 in a North Las Vegas house after the 17-year-old was found living on the streets of Las Vegas with her own severely malnourished 4-month-old daughter, who was hospitalized.
A judge scheduled trial April 25 for Jondrew Magil Lachaux, 39, on 22 felony counts, and Kellie Cherie Phillips, 38, on six charges contained in the indictment.
The charges include first-degree murder, second-degree murder and felony child abuse, neglect or endangerment, and could get each life in prison if convicted. Lachaux also faces a concealing evidence count.
Clark County District Court Judge David Barker kept bail at $5 million for Lachaux and $2 million for Phillips, who is several months’ pregnant, a prosecutor and her lawyer said.
Outside court, Phillips’ defense attorney, Ben Nadig, cast his client as controlled by Lachaux, with whom Phillips is accused of moving to Northern California with their five other children after Lachaux fathered the teenage girl’s baby.
Lachaux’s lawyer, Michael Pandullo, declined immediate comment.
The teen told police that her mother, Phillips, didn’t know she was pregnant with Lachaux’s child when the rest of the family left last year for the Oakland, California. The teen said she gave birth at home in November with no medical care.
The girl told police that Lachaux returned to the house in late March to move the decomposing corpse to an old Mercedes sedan parked in the garage.
The 17-year-old isn’t being identified because The Associated Press typically does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
Her child was placed in foster care, and she and the other five children were placed in custody of county child protective services.