When Jurissa Ballance found out she was pregnant, she cried for six hours straight, a friend told Las Vegas police.
On Aug. 1, 2014, she gave birth to a baby girl, Aralee Jo Ballance.
From then, until Dec. 28, 2014, the day Aralee died after suffering three acute brain bleeds and nine chronic rib fractures, she was described as a “very happy baby” by her mother, according to an arrest report.
Jurissa Ballance, 20, and her boyfriend, Jonathan Vining, 23, were arrested Thursday by Las Vegas police. Both are charged with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of child abuse or neglect with substantial bodily harm, according to the report.
On Dec. 12, 2014, the couple noticed Aralee lying on her side “bicycling,” eyes open and unresponsive. After observing the odd behavior for 10 minutes, they realized she was having a seizure.
DeWanna Ballance, Aralee’s maternal grandmother, advised Jurissa Ballance to call 911.
First responders transported 4-month-old Aralee to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, where she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.
She died there two weeks later, 4 months and 27 days old.
The attending pediatric radiologist diagnosed Aralee with bleeding in the brain, raising suspicion for “non-accidental trauma.”
A report from the Clark County coroner’s office found that Aralee’s cause of death was complications of non-accidental injury. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Alexis Smith, Jurissa Ballance’s friend, told police she knew Jurissa Ballance to be “very rough” with Aralee.
“She’d kind of toss her,” according to the arrest report.
Smith said her friend called in October and told her Aralee was “purple and not breathing, trying to gasp for air, and could not catch her breath.”
Against Smith’s advice, Jurissa Ballance decided to wait until her daughter’s next check-up, then about 10 days away, to seek medical care.
Vining in January told police that “a couple months ago, if Aralee was handed to him, and he would grab her around her ribs, Aralee would start crying like he hurt her.”
The coroner could not determine if Aralee’s injuries had occurred over time or at the same time.
All of her fractures showed “significant healing,” and that she had been at least a month old when they occurred.
A forensic pediatrician determined “all three of Aralee’s brain bleeds were brand new” and likely occurred the day she started seizing.
Rebecca Smith, Alexis’ mother, says she also saw Jurissa Ballance’s abrasive interactions with Aralee.
“Gosh! I just changed you! I gotta change you again! What a brat!” Rebecca Smith recalled Jurissa Ballance saying, while grabbing a then-1-week-old Aralee roughly by the left foot.
Jurissa Ballance and Vining both told police that Vining was not alone with Aralee on the day she was hospitalized, and both deny causing her harm.
Both failed polygraph tests.
The two are being held at Clark County Detention Center without bail.
An earlier abuse allegation involving Aralee was reported to the Clark County Department of Family Services the day she was born. Family Services said the allegation was unsubstantiated and the case was closed.
Contact Kimberly De La Cruz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0381. Find her on Twitter: @KimberlyinLV