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Death penalty sought in case against parents charged for murdering 3-year-old daughter

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OGDEN, Utah (News4Utah)- The brutality of the crime couldn’t be overlooked.

That’s why the Weber County Attorney notified the court of their intent to pursue the death penalty against an Ogden couple accused of aggravated murder. 

The parents, 26-year-old Miller Costello and 23-year-old Brenda Emile, were taken into custody last July after 3-year-old Angelina Costello was found dead with obvious bruising and cuts.

Emile and Costello were charged with aggravated murder involving the death of their three-year old girl.  A year later, they’re facing the death penalty if there’s a conviction.

“In this case we’re seeking the death penalty because of the egregious nature of the fact pattern,” said Chris Allred, the Weber County attorney.

A year ago, neighbors knew very little of Emile and Costello.  Police said they had just moved in from Montana.  According to police Miller said they were part of a Romanian gypsy community and were travelling across the county to buy scrap metal.

Neighbors first interacted with them when Ogden police were at their door on Grant Avenue a year ago.

Stacey Johnson said her daughter went to offer the mother help but was turned away.

“My daughter said she acted like she was a victim but she was stuck up and that she was the victim,” said Johnson.

Johnson and others learned the parent’s three-year old was brutally beaten, starved and had their other children attack the child as well. 

Police said during an interview with the mother she admitted to using makeup to conceal some injuries “so they didn’t look as bad”. Investigators found several pictures and videos on Costello and Emile’s cellphones showing the couple presenting food to Angelina and them “removing it from her and disciplining her”. 

“This was a situation where the parents over the course of over several months, starved the child and inflicted injuries, multiple injuries from head to foot,” said the county attorney.

A mother who  wants to remain anonymous, now lives in the same home.

“There is a closet that locks from the outside and we wondered how strange that was,” said the woman.  “And there’s crayons on the inside of the closet door and we wondered if someone locked their kid in that closet.”

Johnson said the death penatly in this case is warranted.

“Any crime against children should be prosecuted to the fullest extent,” she said. “Especially in the death of a child, especially by a parent, a mother.”

In a prepared statement, the ACLU of Utah disagreed with the action of the prosecutor.

“It is disappointing to see that Weber County is choosing to pursue the death penalty in this case, and thereby saddling Weber County taxpayers with additional costs and decades of litigation and appeals, all while life without parole remains an appropriate alternative.”

“More and more Utahns and Americans are realizing that the death penalty is a broken tool, which creates costs for us all, and strings out legal appeals for years. Utah has come close to abolishing the death penalty outright in recent years, as policymakers increasingly acknowledge that the death penalty is a costly and inefficient tool.”
 

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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