TAOS, N.M. (Reuters) - New charges were filed on Friday against two of five adults arrested for alleged child abuse at a New Mexico compound after autopsy results showed an abducted toddler died there and was hidden on the property, Taos County Sheriff's Office said.
Jany Leveille, 35, and her husband Siraj Ibn Wahhaj, 40, were charged with abuse of a child resulting in death, as well as conspiracy to commit abuse of a child, both of which are first degree felonies that carry potential life sentences, Sheriff Jerry Hogrefe said in a statement.
The two previously only faced charges for child abuse that did not result in death or bodily harm, a third-degree felony.
"We now know the child died on December 24, 2017 and was concealed at the compound," Hogrefe said in the statement.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation agent said in court testimony on Aug. 13 that the severely ill child was believed to have died in February as Ibn Wahhaj, his father, carried out a "ruqya" Islamic faith healing ritual on him to cast out evil spirits.
Ibn Wahhaj is accused of abducting the boy in December from his legal wife in Georgia and taking him to the compound near Amalia, northern New Mexico, close to the Colorado border.
The boy's body was found there on Aug. 6, three days after police raided the compound on reports that 11 children there were starving. The children are now in protective custody. Ibn Wahhaj, his brother in law, Lucas Morton, and sisters Hujrah Wahhaj and Subhannah Wahhaj are in Taos County jail awaiting trial. Leveille, a Haitian national, is being held in El Paso on federal immigration charges.
Lawyers for the five defendants did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
(Reporting by Andrew Hay in Taos, New Mexico and Joseph Ax in New York; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Sandra Maler)
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Updated Date: Aug 25, 2018 06:05 AM