LANCASTER – A 23-year-old man accused of beating to death his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter in September has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Matthew Worthen entered the plea Tuesday (Dec. 17) in an Antelope Valley courtroom, where he was arraigned for murder and assault on a child causing death, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.
Two-year-old Zanai Noel had rib fractures, hemorrhages, a collapsed lung, internal bleeding and a pulverized liver when Worthen and the child’s mother brought her to Palmdale Regional Medical Center around 9:25 p.m. on September 22, according to detectives. The toddler was pronounced dead an hour later.
Zanai’s mother told detectives she left the child with Worthen for a few minutes while she went to the store. The fatal beating occurred during that time, detectives allege.
Worthen was arrested on Sept. 26, after a coroner’s autopsy report confirmed Zanai’s cause of death.
Zanai’s mother has not been charged in the case.
A preliminary hearing for Worthen is scheduled for January 28, 2014. At the conclusion of that hearing, a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence against Worthen to take the case to trial.
Worthen remains jailed on 1,020,000 bail.
Previous related story: Palmdale toddler beaten to death