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Fiancée Charged In Plano Toddler’s Death Sparks Nationwide Outrage

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PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) - The death of a 2-year-old Plano girl, and the arrest of her father’s fiancée after he allegedly broke up with her, is generating interest and anger across the nation.

Grace Ford died the second week of January at her home in Plano. She was found unconscious with duct tape on her mouth.

Her father’s fiancée, Melinda Muniz is charged with Capital Murder.

The case has struck a nerve, with many people venting online about Muniz’s arrest in connection to the horrific crime.

“It was kind of shocking to learn that something like that had happened over here,” said Stephen Shanabrook, who lives at the complex where the toddler was killed. Shanabrook returned from vacation to learn that a little girl was murdered there. Shock turned to profound sadness when the neighbor learned it was Grace Ford’s daily caregiver who was allegedly responsible for her death.

“It’s just a really sad, tragic, situation… you feel bad for everyone involved,” said Shanabrook.

A more common reaction however, to Muniz’s arrest is anger.

Many CBS 11 viewers took to social media to express their outrage. Comments on Facebook ranged from “Give me five minutes with her please,” and “Sick lady!” There were numerous other posts that CBS 11 News couldn’t broadcast.

“Because the victim is a child; it’s extraordinary,” said attorney Kimberly Priest Johnson.

Johnson has worked as both a prosecutor and defense attorney. She understands the intense interest in the tragic case. Johnson said the details in the arrest warrant that were made public are extraordinary.

“The fact that she put the child in the shopping cart to go buy the things that she used to then go back and kill her with — that’s just one of those facts that’s devastating… that’s devastating to the case,” said Johnson.

Dallas attorney Robbie McClung is representing Muniz. She told CBS 11 News that she has met with her client and described her mental state as “fragile.”

McClung acknowledge the widespread interest in the case, but insisted that she refuses to try the case “in the media.” She also asked the community to reserve judgement until all of the facts of the case are told. That said, she admitted the case is a challenge.

“I’d say ‘challenge’ is an understatement,” said Johnson.

Plano police have expressed some concern at the intensity of the reaction to the case. They told CBS 11 News that they are certain they arrested the right person. But police also stressed that Muniz is innocent until proven guilty. They, too, have asked the community for patience to allow the wheels of justice to turn.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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