Trial of woman accused in toddler homicide begins

Opening statements in the Erica Bell murder trial were heard Monday morning.  

The 24-year-old is charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of 3-year-old Brook Stagles last November.  

Bell waived the right to a jury trial, so Monroe County Judge Christopher Ciaccio will hear the testimony and deliver a verdict.

Prosecutors said Bell punched Stagles in the stomach so hard that it perforated the little girl's intestines, which then slowly leaked into her body. They say she suffered for three days, and that others even saw she was sick and never took her to get help. 

The defense argued no one intervened to help Brook because they didn't know, including Bell, how serious her internal injuries were.

The defense also said Bell was a victim of domestic violence and took the blame for something she did not do. 

Brook Stagles' father, Michael, is charged with criminally negligent homicide and will be tried separately.

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