Matthew Albert Worthen, 23, of Palmdale, California, was charged Monday, September 30, with one count each of murder and assault on a child after fatally beating his girlfriend’s daughter, 2-year-old Zanai Noel, in their apartment on September 22 while she ran errands, reports The Antelope Valley Times.
Even the coroner was stunned by the viciousness of the toddler’s injuries, said detective Q. Rodriguez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau.
“She had severe internal injuries consistent with hard blows to the back causing rib fractures, hemorrhages, a collapsed lung, internal bleeding and a pulverized liver,” Rodriguez said. “The coroner said he’s only seen injuries like this in high speed traffic accidents, so you can imagine.”
Friends and family allege that baby Zanai was terrified of Worthen, who had a history of domestic violence toward her mother, Ayisha Noel. According to the Antelope Valley Times, Rodriguez confirmed that Worthen was arrested in July, 2013 for domestic violence and that a restraining order had been in place.
“There was a restraining order, a keep away order, however we believe it expired and we’re looking into that,” Rodriguez said.
Zanai’s biological father, Robert Skinner, blames Noel for their daughter’s brutal killing.
“How could you leave our daughter with a man who, mind you, has already put his hands on you up and down? Then you have to get a restraining order against him and you’re still dealing with him? That’s crazy!” Skinner said.
Skinner said that he found out about his daughter’s death via popular photo sharing service Instagram when someone posted a picture of Zanai with the acronym “RIP.”
“I want him buried under the prison and I think she should be right there with him,” Skinner said. “I’m devastated behind this, my whole family is devastated behind this. I understand now why half the time she would not let me have my daughter, because she knew my daughter was going to tell me that something was going on.”
Baby Zanai’s story made headlines when West Coast M.C., The Game (real name Jayceon Taylor) found out about her story and a fund set up to pay for funeral expenses. The big-hearted rapper shared her story on his Instagram page, with the information that he was paying for the funeral.
Meet 2 1/2 year old Zanai Noel……. Who died in her sleep 3 days ago due to reasons not yet known until autopsy reports are returned to her parents Robert & Ayisha by the coroners office this week. I saw this story on my timeline & I sware every time it’s a child my heart drops to the floor…. As a parent of three & for any of you who are parents reading this…. There is no worst fear than losing YOUR CHILD !!!!!!!!!! I never want to know this pain & can only be sorry that Robert & Ayisha had to endure such a tragedy
Me & @_genius_cole are donating the $5,000 the parents were trying to raise to help with the burial of this sweet lil angel.
The coronor’s report confirming that baby Zanai had been killed was completed after The Game’s announcement.
Zanai’s mother publicly defended herself from Skinner’s accusations in a long post via her personal Instagram page:
Seeing as I’m getting to bury my baby in a couple of days I wanted to set some things straight for those who think they know what has been going on with me and my child. #1 her father @smooth_operator who has tried to bash me and tear me apart in the media has not been in this child’s life because he wasn’t ready to be a father and wanted me to have an abortion from the very beginning 2@smooth_operator to make a mockery of his daughters death is immoral and immature.
Highly doubt you had any idea what it takes to parent a child. 3 for those who don’t know this fact @smooth_operator & @thedocumentary money was donated to pay for my baby’s funeral but it wasn’t ALL given to the funeral home. He kept some to himself. Also created a fake fundraising acct for her funeral and plans to pocket the money from the giveforward foundation. So @smooth_operator &@ thedocumentary.
You have been bamboozled and fooled by a crook. Who profits off their child’s death? Sure not her mother! And lastly I would NEVR in a million years EVER put some one I love in danger!!! I lost my life loosing that little girl and trying to figure out how to live without her will be the hardest thing I ever have to do.
So all those out there that got their info from zanai’s biological father@smooth_operator. U have been misinformed and he has made my daughters death a way for him to finally get the spotlight on him..even though he knows he never spent time with her from the beginning to the end. I’m done typing now.
For all of you who thought u knew. I’m sorry u had no idea that you’ve been supporting and bandwagoning with a thief and a man who NEVR took care of his child. Financially or physically. Matthew will be handled. As far as me… Be smart… If I was going to be locked up for having bad judgement I would be.. But that [is something] I have to live with. So now that you know more of the truth from the parent who had her 24/7 maybe you can let me mourn my child in peace and find something better to do than make this time harder for me than it already is. No one knows MY PAIN!!
Worthen is currently in custody on $1 million bail and his trial is scheduled to begin on Wednesday, October 16. He faces life in prison if convicted.