Grand Junction woman charged in beating death of girlfriend’s 3-year-old niece

(Photo: Mesa County Sheriff's Office)

(Photo: Mesa County Sheriff's Office)

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. — A Grand Junction woman has been formally charged with murder in the death of her girlfriend’s 3-year-old niece, the Daily Sentinel reports.

Rebekah Wallin, 32, was arrested in late July and charged in the death of Bethannie Johnson, who died in March from blunt force trauma, according an autopsy by the the Mesa County Coroner’s Office.

Wallin is charged with first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, second-degree kidnapping and false imprisonment. The girl’s legal guardian and Wallin’s then-girlfriend, Shanna Gossett, faces the same charges.

Both women are being held in the Mesa County Jail.

Gossett was arrested hours after the girl’s death, the Daily Sentinel reported. She initially told police she strapped the girl in a high chair and kept her in a closet for two weeks, and Wallin wasn’t aware the girl was in the home.

But she changed her story in late July and told authorities that Wallin threw the girl against a shelving unit and a wall inside her home, the Daily Sentinel reported.

The child stopped breathing, but police weren’t notified for two days because Wallin didn’t want to lose custody of her own three children, the Daily Sentinel reported.

Wallin’s attorney, Stephan Schweissing, said his client is waiving the right to a preliminary hearing. Wallin’s next hearing is Oct. 12.