Two-year-old Bri was dead, with bruises all over her stomach. Her mother, Victoria Pedraza, told a story that didn't add up. She told a police officer in a taped interrogation that Bri had fallen off a fishing dock:
The coroner confirmed this was a lie — Bri, whose full name was Aubriana, died from child abuse. Authorities arrested the only two people who could have hurt her: Victoria and her husband Daniel.
But when they booked Victoria into jail, they discovered bruises on her buttocks and legs. The next morning, when a police officer asked where her and her daughter's injuries came from, she whispered, "Daniel":
Then she began to open up and tell what really happened. Prosecutors eventually determined that Victoria hadn't laid a hand on her daughter. Daniel had murdered the little girl, and for months he had brutalized Victoria too. In that state, she wondered, How can I protect my kid?
Prosecutors decided she was a criminal.
A BuzzFeed News investigation: How courts have treated Victoria and battered women like her. Read it here.
Alex Campbell is an investigative reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. His secure PGP fingerprint is 0712 96AD 2FED CEF9 AFA7 9280 0397 E646 0A39 2C8A
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Julia Furlan is an audio editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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