LOS ANGELES (CNS) — An arraignment was delayed again for a Whittier couple accused of the torture-murder of a 2-year-old girl whose body was found in a duffel bag as they were attempting to cross the border into Mexico.
Mercy Mary Becerra, 43, and Johnny Lewis Hartley, 39, were initially charged in San Diego County, but the case was moved to Los Angeles County. Becerra made her initial appearance Oct. 7 in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
Becerra and Hartley both appeared in court Tuesday, Oct. 11, but their arraignment was pushed back until Oct. 25.
Bail was set at $3.2 million for both defendants.
The duo face one felony count each of murder, torture and assault on a child causing death. The victim is identified in the criminal complaint only as “Angelina W.” The two are also charged with human trafficking to commit pimping or pandering involving the toddler’s mother.
Becerra and Hartley trafficked the woman between November 2012 and August 2016, seized her daughter, severely abused the child and killed the girl on or about Aug. 9, prosecutors allege. Authorities have said they believe the toddler died in Whittier.
Becerra and Lewis entered Tijuana in a pedestrian lane Aug. 9, and Becerra ran off as Mexican customs agents approached the pair, San Diego police said. Authorities chased and caught her and took her companion into custody.