- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

PATERSON, N.J. (AP) - A New Jersey man and woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, who authorities believe was also sexually assaulted.

Jonathan Almodovar, 30, and Damarius Lawson, 33, both of Paterson, were arraigned Wednesday. Passaic County prosecutors say the pair were involved in a “quasi-romantic” relationship, noting that Almodovar spent a lot of time at Lawson’s home, frequently stayed there overnight and often watching her children.

The girl suffered a significant brain injury and died Jan. 26.

Almodovar is charged with murder, aggravated sexual assault and child endangerment. His bail was set at $2 million cash.

Lawson is charged with aggravated manslaughter, child endangerment, tampering with a witness and tampering with physical evidence. Her bail was set at $1 million cash.

The investigation into the girl’s death began Jan. 20, when Almodovar and Lawson were arrested after they brought her unresponsive daughter to a hospital, prosecutors said. The girl - whose name has not been released - was diagnosed with a significant brain injury, and further evaluation determined that some of her injuries were consistent with sexual assault.

While the investigation was ongoing, prosecutors said Lawson tried to get a witness to lie to police. Investigators also obtained evidence after searching a home where the child lived, but further details were not disclosed.

Almodovar would face a life sentence if convicted on all counts, while Dawson would face several decades in prison. Their lawyers declined to comment after the arraignment.

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