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Murder charge for woman accused of feeding toddler chili powder

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A California woman accused of feeding chili powder to her boyfriend's daughter, causing the toddler to have a seizure and die, has been charged with first-degree murder, prosecutors said Wednesday.

In a complaint filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court in Victorville, prosecutors said that Amanda Sorensen, 21, acted with "malice aforethought" to murder the child, a 2-year-old who was called Joileen G. in court papers.

The girl was earlier identified by the San Bernardino County coroner's office as Joileen Garcia, shown in a family photo here.

The complaint also accused Sorensen with assaulting a child.

Authorities were called out on a report of a girl suffering from a seizure after ingesting chili powder at a home in the 20000 block of Cayuga Road in Apple Valley on Sunday.

She later died at a hospital. Sorensen, the girlfriend of Joileen’s father, was booked into the San Bernardino County Jail on a charge of assaulting a child and causing death, online records show.

Sorensen was scheduled to be arraigned late in the afternoon on Wednesday, but the hearing was rescheduled for Thursday.

At the courthouse Wednesday was a man who said he was the boyfriend of the toddler's biological mother. Manuel Lopez said he had raised Joileen since she was 1.5 years old and considered himself her father.

"Early in the morning, she would always jump into bed with us. She went with us everywhere," Lopez said. "Bright kid, smart, intelligent, running around. ... She loved animals and horses."

He said Joileen's biological mother was devastated.

"She's just broken down," Lopez said.