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Mother describes seeing toddler before fatal fall at Tysons

By Tom Jackman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 19, 2011; 12:44 AM

Kathlyn Ogdoc remembered that she held the door open for her two-year-old daughter and her mother as they headed from the food court at Tysons Corner Center to the parking lot. When Ogdoc looked back, she saw her mother scoop up the toddler, Angelyn, as if to keep up with the other adults.

Ogdoc took a few steps more, then looked back again. Recalling that November evening in court Friday, barely audible through her tears, she said she saw her mother standing at the walkway railing, five stories above the ground, and "I saw her drawing her hands back."

And Angelyn was gone, she realized, dropped from the 50-foot-high walkway .

"I yelled, 'Mom!'" Ogdoc recalled, then sprinted down five flights of stairs with her father and brother. Angelyn was still alive, and her 22-year-old mother rode with her in the ambulance to the hospital. The girl died nine hours later, and her grandmother, Carmela Dela Rosa, was later charged with murder.

In a preliminary hearing in Fairfax juvenile and domestic relations court, a judge found probable cause to believe Dela Rosa, 50, was involved in the killing. The judge sent the case to a circuit court grand jury, which will hear the case Tuesday and hand up a possible indictment.

The emotional hearing, witnessed by two dozen family members sitting on both the defense and prosecution sides of the courtroom, was the first time Kathlyn Ogdoc has spoken publicly about the death of her daughter. She refused to make eye contact with her mother, and when asked by Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh to point out the defendant, she looked down in disgust and pointed one finger at her mother.

In addition to Ogdoc's testimony, the first Fairfax police officer on the scene added a new detail to the case. Officer Anthony Stancampiano said he was dispatched to the mall at 7:20 p.m. on Nov. 29, found paramedics treating the toddler, then looked up and saw Dela Rosa still on the fifth-floor walkway, speaking with mall security.

"I walked up to her and asked if she was the one involved in this," Stancampiano said. "She said, 'Yes, I did it. I threw the baby off.' "

Dela Rosa watched the hearing impassively, occasionally making comments to her lawyer, Fairfax Chief Deputy Public Defender Dawn M. Butorac. Family members declined to comment after the hearing, and Ogdoc could be seen in a witness room after the hearing, sobbing and being comforted by her husband, James, who was working at Tysons that night.

"She's devastated," Morrogh said of Ogdoc after the hearing. "She's a wonderful young woman and I think everyone's heart is broken for her."

Dela Rosa used to regularly babysit for Angelyn and doted on her, neighbors said. But she also has a history of mental health problems and family friends said she suffered from depression.

Dela Rosa's mental health issues were raised in Friday's court hearing and Butorac said she planned to explore them as a possible defense. She said Dela Rosa had been seeing a psychologist for 10 years before Angelyn's death, and is being treated by mental health professionals in the Fairfax jail.

Ogdoc and her family - her father, brother, mother and daughter - had been at Tysons for about two hours, she said, when they headed out, and Ogdoc said she wanted to stay close to her mother and daughter. "As long as she's in sight with Angelyn, I'm fine. Usually."

"Why wouldn't you be fine?" Butorac asked.

"She hasn't been that reliable the past few months," Ogdoc said.

"Why do you say that?" Butorac asked.

"Because she's tried to kill herself more than one time," Ogdoc answered. "I didn't think my daughter would be safe with anyone outside of myself."

Ogdoc did not actually see her mother drop Angelyn over the railing, instead only glancing back at her twice: once to see her pick up the toddler, and once to see her empty-handed at the walkway railing.

But sources close to the case said the mall surveillance cameras captured the horrific event. The tape was not played in court Friday.

As Ogdoc and her family stood near the injured Angelyn, they looked up at Dela Rosa, five stories above them. Ogdoc said her mother had crossed her arms on the railing, placed her chin on them, and placidly looked down at them, saying nothing.

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