Police: 3-year-old dies from injuries believed to be caused by child abuse, man charged with capital murder

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ALBERTVILLE, Ala. — Albertville Police say a 3-year-old girl they believe was abused in December passed away.

Diego Sebastian

Diego Sebastian (Photo: Albertville Police)

Police arrested Diego Sebastian on Friday and charged him with aggravated child abuse. Marshall County District Attorney Steve Marshall said the charge was upgraded to capital murder this week.

Authorities have a capital murder warrant and it served Wednesday morning at the Marshall County Courthouse during an initial court appearance.

Diego Sebastian is set for a Preliminary hearing for this case on January 25.

"You want to hope for the best, but from the beginning we knew it wasn't a pretty picture for the child," explained Major Jamie Smith, Albertville PD Assistant Chief. "Medical personnel are pretty sharp. They know what they're looking at. They'll let us know."

Albertville police say the 3-year-old girl is Jeannely Maria Gaspar Mateo. Investigators say Sebastian is not the biological father of the child. It's unknown if he and the mother are married.


Jeannely Maria Gaspar Mateo (Photo: Albertville Police)

Police say they arrested Sebastian for the incident, which occurred at a residence on Greenview Drive sometime during the night of December 28.

Officers from the Albertville Police Department were called to Marshall South Medical Center Emergency Department on the reports of injuries sustained by a 3-year-old female.  The child was later transferred to Children’s Hospital in Birmingham. Officials say she died on there Sunday afternoon.

According to an earlier press release, detectives from the Albertville Police Department and officials from the Marshall County Department of Human Resources began the investigation and were able to develop enough evidence to obtain a warrant against Sebastian.

While police were not in a place in the investigation to explain what they believe happened to cause the injuries, they told WHNT News 19 that Sebastian said he was attempting to throw the child onto a bed, and missed.

"What in the world could a child do... you know?" said Smith. "I can't wrap my head around it."

Police say the child's mother was present with her in the hospital until the girl died. They added there was noticeable head trauma, but are waiting for an autopsy to determined the official cause of death.