Fresno woman accused in death of infant girl.
A Fresno woman who is accused of killing her 7-week-old foster child didn't like children, but became a foster mother to make money, according to a police affidavit filed in Fresno County Superior Court.
Jovannee Reynolds and her husband, Randall Reynolds, became foster parents in August last year because the couple had credit card debt and outstanding loans, Fresno police detective Teri Terry wrote in her affidavit.
The affidavit was written in support of a search warrant to get copies of the couple's bank records from Aug. 1, 2009, to June 7 of this year, court documents show.
A criminal complaint accuses only Jovannee Reynolds, 23, of murdering her foster child, Mikayla Tabin, who died in September at Children's Hospital Central California. She also is charged with assault causing Mikayla's death by violently shaking the child and child endangerment involving another foster child in her home.
If convicted, she faces at least 25 years to life in prison.
Reynolds, who is free on $200,000 bail, has pleaded not guilty to the charges.Reynolds' attorney, Martin Taleisnik, said Tuesday the detective's affidavit surprised him.
"I don't believe she hates children," Taleisnik said.
Taleisnik also said that if police are successful in "planting a seed" that Reynolds hates children, it will cause potential jurors to dislike her and hurt her chances of getting a fair trial.
A police investigation shows the couple were in financial difficulty before becoming foster parents, the affidavit said. Jovannee Reynolds was unemployed, the affidavit said.
"They became foster parents for financial gain, rather than their desire to take care of children," Terry wrote. Foster parents can earn hundreds of dollars a month per child.
To bolster the case, police interviewed the manager of the apartment complex where the couple lived at the time of Mikayla's death. The manager said she was surprised to learn that Jovannee Reynolds was a foster mother because she thought Reynolds hated children, the affidavit said.
The manager also said Jovannee Reynolds complained on a regular basis "about kids playing in the apartment complex and making noise," the detective wrote.
In addition, before Jovannee Reynolds posted bail, jail officials recorded a conversation she had with a visitor, the affidavit said.
The visitor told Reynolds about the allegation that she didn't like kids and Reynolds "acknowledged that this was the case," the affidavit said.
The affidavit says Fresno County social workers placed Mikayla with Reynolds and her husband at their central Fresno apartment on the 3200 block of West Ashlan Avenue on Aug. 30. On Sept. 13, the couple took Mikayla to the hospital after the infant had trouble breathing.
When Mikayla died Sept. 20, the Fresno Police Department's Child Abuse Unit and the Fresno County Coroner's Office launched an investigation.
Reynolds was arrested March 17 after police said the investigation revealed Mikayla died of shaken-baby syndrome, a term used to describe symptoms resulting from violent shaking of an infant or small child's head.
Police did not arrest Reynolds' husband. The couple did not have children of their own.
Reynolds' next court appearance is Thursday.