Parents accused of killing toddler face charges before judge

The Atascadero parents accused of killing their 20-month-old daughter appeared before a Superior Court judge this afternoon.

Fermin Brito Palacios, 27, and Arianne Merce Brito, 22, face second-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Natalia Brito.

Natalia died Saturday after her mother took her to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, the likely result of trauma to her head and torso, Atascadero police said.

The pair, who have remained at County Jail without bail, appeared this afternoon before Judge Dodie Harmon in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

They did not enter a plea.

Investigators alleged that Arianne Brito told emergency personnel that her daughter was short of breath, a statement they said was inconsistent with the child's injuries.

Both parents have been charged with second-degree murder, assault of a child under 8 years old and child endangerment.

Arianne Brito was also charged with one count of being an accessory after the fact.

Police say acquaintances of the parents told investigators the young family had a history of domestic violence and child abuse.

If convicted, they could face life in prison.