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Debra Wong Yang
United States Attorney
Central District of California

United States Courthouse
312 North Spring Street
Los Angeles, California 90012
Release No. 06-064

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May 22, 2006
For Information, Contact Public Affairs
Thom Mrozek (213) 894-6947


Los Angeles, CA - A Mexican national has been convicted of child abuse for beating a 4-year-old girl who suffered a skull fracture that led to a swelling of her brain, leaving the child severely brain damaged and a quadraplegic.

Elizabeth Copeland, 31, was found guilty of two counts of child beating, pursuant to California law, and three counts of making false statements to investigators, pursuant to federal law. The case was prosecuted in United States District Court because the beatings took place on the Naval Base at Port Hueneme, where local authorities have no jurisdiction.

Copeland, who was dating the victim's father, took care of the girl. On September 7, 2005, paramedics were summoned to an apartment on the Naval Base, where they found the injured girl. Doctors later determined that the base of her skull was fractured, which tore a blood vessel and resulted in internal bleeding and great pressure on the brain. The victim was in a coma, but she eventually regained consciousness, although she is a quadraplegic, has severe brain damage and is expected to live only for approximately 10 more years.

The victim was covered with bruises indicating long-term child abuse, and Copeland admitted hitting the girl on September 6. The two child abuse charges related to the two days in which she was injured.

Copeland was also found guilty of making three false statements to the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Specifically, the jury determined that Copeland lied when she told investigators that she was not mad at the girl the day she suffered the head injury, that she only struck the girl on her behind that she only used her hand to strike the child. During the trial, a doctor testified that the girl's injury was consistent with being struck by a baseball bat or falling from a second-floor window.

Copeland is scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge R. Gary Klausner on August 21. At sentencing, Copeland faces a maximum possible sentence of 32 years in federal prison.

This case was investigated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.


Release No. 06-064

Return to the 2006 Press Release Index

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