Prosecutors on Tuesday upgraded the charges against a Chicago woman who allegedly threw her 3-year-old nephew off of Navy Pier, causing him to drown. Victoria Moreno, 34, was initially charged with attempted first-degree murder on September 21, but the boy, Josiah Brown, subsequently died from his injuries, prompting authorities to change the charge to first-degree murder.
Moreno, who has been held without bail since her initial court appearance last month, was once again ordered held without bail by Judge Susana Ortiz.
Prosecutors essentially repeated the allegations they laid out previously: Moreno took Josiah from the family home without permission, allowed him to wander to the edge of the pier, and then intentionally tossed him into the lake about 6½ feet below. She did nothing to help the boy or a passerby who called 911 and hurled a life ring toward him, according to the allegations. Surveillance cameras recorded the entire episode.
Authorities have said that Josiah remained on the lake bottom for about 30 minutes before rescue divers brought him to the surface. He died on September 25.
Assistant Public Defender Ryan Carlsen offered new defenses as he urged Ortiz to release Moreno on bail, saying the circumstances don’t “necessarily preclude an accident.” Moreno, he argued, may not have assisted with Josiah’s rescue because she was “simply overwhelmed” after he fell into the water.
Moreno has been on psychiatric medications for about seven years, and she was taking her prescriptions at the time of the incident, Carlsen said.
Judge Ortiz concluded that Moreno’s mental illness could make her a danger to the public.
“Should she encounter a child in any location where she might not be able to control her impulse, another child could result in harm or death,” Ortiz said before granting the state’s no-bail request.
When Ortiz asked Moreno if she understood her bail, Moreno replied, “the only thing, I have to talk to them, they took my keys and my purse.”
Ortiz assured Moreno that her attorneys would investigate any property authorities may have inventoried.