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NYC man charged with fatally beating toddler stepdaughter

NEW YORK — Authorities say a 32-year-old man has been arrested on murder and assault charges in the death of his 3-year-old stepdaughter in Queens. Police were called to the home in the Far Rockaway neighborhood at about 6 p.m. Monday and found Bella Edwards unconscious and unresponsive. 

She was rushed to a hospital where she died.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown says the suspect, Marc Jenkins, lives with the child's mother and had called 911. He was performing CPR when officers arrived, reports CBS New York.

He was the only adult at home with the victim and a 3-month-old sibling and was arrested on Tuesday.

Brown says a preliminary autopsy showed the child died of blunt force trauma to her abdomen. The child also showed signs she was sexually abused, reports CBS New York.

The New York City Administration of Children's Services is also investigating. They reportedly removed the infant child from the home. The family has no history with the agency, reports the station.

"Bella was a beautiful soul, vibrant," family member Quintina Thorn told the station. "That's how everybody remembers her."

Jenkins, of Queens, is charged with second degree murder and assault. Sources tell CBS New York the sex assault allegation is still under investigation, but Jenkins was taken to a hospital before his arrest Tuesday for DNA collection.

If convicted of the current charges, Jenkins faces up to 25 years to life in prison.

Bella's mother, Shamikaa Gonzalez, posted messages about the girl's death on Facebook, reports the station.

"Bella I'm so sorry I wasn't [there] to protect you," Gonzalez wrote. "This feels like a bad dream I can't wake up from."

It wasn't clear if Jenkins had a lawyer who could comment.

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