Ogden, UT (KSL) — A couple in Ogden, Utah, has been ordered to stand trial on an aggravated murder charge in the abuse death of their daughter, who was found so malnourished and neglected she was compared to a holocaust victim.
In an order filed Friday following a hearing earlier in the week, 2nd District Judge Michael DiReda found there was probable cause to support the first-degree felony charge, outlining the prolonged abuse and neglect that was so extensive, no single cause of death could be pinpointed in the death of 3-year-old Angelina Costello.
According to evidence presented during a preliminary hearing in February, Angelina experienced “extreme emaciation” and extensive “non-accidental trauma” while in the care of her parents, Miller Eric Costello, 26, and his wife Brenda Emile, 23, DiReda wrote in his decision.
“Based upon the evidence, the court reasonably infers that the injuries — including the injuries to the brain and pancreas, the burns, the abrasions, the contusions, the whipping of her body, the extreme malnutrition, and the poor hygiene — were inflicted by, encouraged by, or permitted by both defendants,” DiReda wrote.
Costello and Emile are both charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony and a potential capital offense, in Angelina’s death. With the case bound over, prosecutors have 60 days to decide whether to pursue a death penalty in the case.
On July 6 police were called to the Ogden home on 2800 block of Grant Avenue where the couple had lived for less than a week, finding Angelina’s cold, emaciated body wrapped in a pink blanket and covered in a layer of pasty makeup allegedly applied to disguise her injuries.
Two Ogden police officers who investigated Angelina’s death compared the girl to a Holocaust victim, a 13-pound skeletal figure with sunken eyes, thinning hair and little to no muscle on her frame.
Prosecutors during the hearing presented photos and videos from the couple’s phones that showed Angelina appearing increasingly bruised and injured as she seemed to waste away physically in the last months of her life, even as her two siblings remained healthy. In some of the images, Emile seemed to taunt Angelina with food, while in others, Costello quizzed the toddler about whether she hated him and asked if she is “evil.”
The couple has “self-proclaimed ties to a transient Romanian gypsy community” and were found to have more than a dozen alternative names and addresses in multiple states for each of them, according to prosecutors. They are both being held without bail Saturday in the Weber County Jail.
The couple is next due in court on July 19.