NICEVILLE, Fla. (WKRG) — A new medical examination of a 2002 cold case revealed that 2-year-old Marselina Liza died of shaken baby syndrome.

Marselina Liza, 2022

Marselinas mother Mary-Jean Liza, 37, was taken into custody in California in Sept. 2022 for her death 20 years ago.

Marselina died Dec. 31, 2002, for what original examiners determined to be Blunt Force Head Trauma following a day in hospital care.

The following is based on the information given by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office in an arrest report.

Marselina had a case file under the Florida Department of Children and Families Care and her mother did not have primary custody.

When the unnamed primary guardians went out of town on vacation, DCF granted Mary-Jean an extended overnight stay with the child starting on Dec. 20, 2002.

Three days later, a caseworker stopped by and noted Marselina was active and healthy with no apparent injuries. On Dec. 29, Mary-Jean’s sister stopped by and also said the child was safe and healthy.

On Dec. 30, Mary-Jean was left at home alone with the child. When the pair was picked up later a witness in the case said Marselina was lethargic and would not respond to him. Mary-Jean reasoned the behavior by saying the girl was sick for a few days but did not get any medical treatment.

The witness said after Mary-Jean took Marselina for a diaper change that day, the girl began to have a seizure and stopped breathing. The witness and Mary-Jean rushed to Twin Cities Hospital in Niceville for help.

While being treated, Marselina was found with 18 bruises on her body and a CT scan revealed her brain had cerebral atrophy and chronic subdural hemorrhages (brain surface blood clotting).

Child Protection Team Physician determined the injuries to be recent and OCSO deputies began a child abuse investigation.

Marselina was transferred to Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola but did not survive. The medical examiner determined her death to be homicide by blunt force trauma.

During a 2003 interview, Mary-Jean said she could have hurt the child in a ‘black-out’ of rage but did not recall ever harming Marselina. The case remained unsolved.

In 2021, investigators received a second look at the autopsy. Medical examiners confirmed the death to be a homicide but determined the cause to be Shaken Baby Syndrome.

OCSO secured a warrant for Mary-Jean and took her into custody in California. She is scheduled for a pretrial conference on Feb. 13, 2023.