Posted by, Marissa Pasquet KOLD News 13 News Editor
A Pima County grand jury indicted Reina Gonzales, 23, Friday on two counts each of first-degree murder and child abuse in connection with the deaths of Ariana Payne and Tyler Payne, according to Deputy Pima County Attorney Susan Eazer.
The decision has not been made as to whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Gonzales, Eazer said. Officials have already announced they will seek the death penalty for the children's father, Christopher Payne.
Until now, police have said Payne killed Ariana and Tyler sometime last year and Gonzales did nothing to stop it.
Gonzales was originally indicted on a single child-abuse charge pertaining to Ariana. Now Gonzales is accused of abusing and killing both children.
Eazer would not say what additional evidence prompted the more serious charges.
Tyler's body has never been found, but Ariana's body was found in a plastic tub in a storage locker trash bin on Feb. 18.
Police were able to identify and track down Payne and Gonzales through a variety of leads. Payne and Gonzales were arrested March 1 after speaking with detectives.
Payne was indicted March 12 on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. His indictment says he caused or permitted Ariana's bones to be broken and "failed to seek prompt medical attention and/or allowed the victim(s) to starve to death."
Ariana's autopsy revealed she suffered numerous broken ribs and a broken shoulder sometime prior to her death and one of her vertebrae was broken at or near the time of her death.
According to Tucson Police Detectives testimony to grand jurors that doctors aren't sure when Ariana's spine was broken, but the broken ribs and shoulder still showed some signs of healing, according to grand jury transcripts.
Doctors estimated that healing process was anywhere between 10 days and several months, according to jury transcripts.
Gonzales denied to grand jurors ever seeing the children being abused. According to Gonzales, she once left Payne for a week and when she returned Ariana and Tyler were gone. . She said Payne told her the children were with their mother.
But the woman Gonzales said she stayed with during the time she left Payne for a week told detectives Gonzales was there only one night.
Grand jurors also learned that Gonzales told detectives Payne was abusive, and that he once held a gun to her head after an argument.