Chili Powder Defendant Pleads Not Guilty to Murder Charge

Amanda Sorensen, whom prosecutors have charged with murdering her boyfriend's daughter by feeding her chili powder, is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday

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    Amanda Sorensen, 21, of Apple Valley, was charged with first degree murder on Wednesday after allegedly feeding chili powder to the two-year-old daughter of her boyfriend. The girl, Joileen Garcia, died Jan. 6.

    An Apple Valley woman accused of murder for allegedly feeding chili powder to a toddler who later had a seizure and died pleaded not guilty Thursday in San Bernardino County Superior Court.

    Amanda Sorensen, 21, was charged Wednesday with first-degree murder and assault on a child causing death.

    Prosecutors said Sorensen fed chili powder to her boyfriend's daughter, causing the seizure and subsequent death of 2-year-old Joileen Garcia, shown in a family photo below.

    In a complaint filed in San Bernardino County Superior Court in Victorville, prosecutors said that Amanda Sorensen, 21, acted with "malice aforethought" to murder the child.

    The judge entered a plea of not guilty for Sorensen, who was assigned a public defender, at Victorville Superior Court on Thursday morning.

    Authorities were called out on a report of a girl suffering from a seizure after ingesting chili powder at a home in the 20000 block of Cayuga Road in Apple Valley on Sunday.

    She later died at a hospital.

    At an initial arraignment hearing that was postponed Wednesday was a man who said he was the boyfriend of the toddler's biological mother. Manuel Lopez said he had raised Joileen since she was 1 1/2 years old and considered himslef her father.

    "Early in the morning, she would always jump into bed with us. She went with us everywhere," Lopez said. "Bright kid, smart, intelligent, running around. ... She loved animals and horses."

    He said Joileen's biological mother was devastated.

    "She's just broken down," Lopez said.

    NBC4's Jacob Rascon contributed to this article.

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