SAN DIEGO -- A Navy man faced a judge Thursday on murder charges in connection with the death of his 3-year-old stepdaughter. Christopher Simmons, 24, pleaded not guilty to murder and assault charges. He was ordered held on $5 million bail.
Prosecutors said the victim, Armani Hansberry, died as a result of blunt force trauma due to a lacerated liver. Paramedics were called to Simmons' Paradise Hills home in a Navy housing complex last Sunday.
Prosecutors said the child's mother witnessed Simmons repeatedly punching the girl in the chest.
"After that, Armani's health rapidly deteriorated. She was vomiting and could hold her head up," said Deputy District Attorney Lindsey Krause.
The child later died at the hospital.
Simmons is a Navy chef stationed aboard the USS Kidd. He faces 25 years to life in convicted, Krause said. He is due back in court in May.