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Woman accused of 3-year-old nephew's murder at Navy Pier found fit to stand trial

Woman accused of pushing nephew into Lake Michigan found fit to stand trial
Woman accused of pushing nephew into Lake Michigan found fit to stand trial 00:36

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The woman accused of killing her 3-year-old nephew in 2022 by pushing him off of Navy Pier into Lake Michigan has been found mentally fit to stand trial while on medication.

Victoria Moreno, 35, is charged with three counts of murder, one count of aggravated battery to a child, and two counts of aggravated kidnapping in the death of Josiah Brown. She has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Cook County prosecutors have said Moreno pushed Josiah into the lake off Navy Pier on Sept. 19, 2022, and did nothing to help as the boy sank into the water.

Chicago Fire Department divers pulled him out of Lake Michigan after about 30 minutes, but he died six days later.

Josiah Brown Facebook

In court, Moreno's defense attorney has suggested she suffers from mental illness, but following a forensic psychiatric evaluation, she was found mentally fit to stand trial on medication, according to Cook County Court records.

Moreno is due back in court on July 10, and court records show her public defender plans to enlist their own expert to conduct an evaluation. She is being held at Cook County Jail as she awaits trial.

Prosecutors have said Josiah was at the home where he lived with his grandmother and another aunt in Des Plaines on Sept. 19, 2022, when Moreno stole the keys to the family's truck, and took Josiah without permission.

Moreno was not allowed to drive because of medication she's on for mental health issues, according to prosecutors. The family was especially worried because, the week before, Moreno had taken three children living at the family home to Navy Pier also without permission. The oldest child, an 11-year-old, called other family members for help and told them their location. 

Prosecutors said Moreno drove Josiah to Chicago, where she first tried to enter the Shedd Aquarium, but was turned away, because she only had cash and couldn't pay for admission. She then went to Navy Pier, bought Josiah a Happy Meal at McDonald's, and then took him outside, where chains are located on posts along Navy Pier to keep people out of Lake Michigan.

Josiah crawled under the chains, and when no one was watching, Moreno climbed over the chains, straddled him, and pushed him into the lake, according to prosecutors.

Victoria Moreno Chicago Police

Moreno sat and stared into the water as Josiah was drowning. Prosecutors said the incident was recorded by surveillance cameras at Navy Pier.

The two witnesses called police and got a life ring, but Josiah sunk under the water. Moreno did not ask for help and pretended to not know the child when questioned by police, prosecutors said.

Fire Department divers pulled him out and took him to Lurie Children's Hospital, where he died six days later.

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