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Grand Island toddler showed signs of shaken baby syndrome, family says

A 26-year-old Grand Island woman remains behind bars but has yet to be formally charged in the death of her boyfriend's 2-year-old daughter.

Raelynn Rose Fuller died Saturday in Oishei Children's Hospital, 12 days after police were called to the hospital after medical staff suspected the toddler may have been the victim of abuse, the Erie County Sheriff's Office said.

Raelynn, who turned 2 while hospitalized, suffered injuries consistent with shaken baby syndrome, Lester Fuller, the toddler's grandfather, said the family was told by doctors.

Brianna Valenti is being held on $150,000 bail on two felony assault charges and child endangerment. Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said Monday he is considering having the case come before a grand jury.

Valenti's boyfriend and Raelynn's father is Cody Fuller, who is originally from Lockport.

"We're all grieving very bad and we don't know what to think of this," Lester Fuller said in a video posted on Facebook.

Valenti and Cody Fuller lived with Raelynn and Valenti's 5-year-old daughter in an apartment on West Park Road on Grand Island.

The couple had been dating for almost two years, Lester Fuller said.

2-year-old Grand Island girl dies following alleged assault

Cody Fuller works in landscaping for a Grand Island company and supported his girlfriend and their two children, he said.

"My son is a hard-working young man who loved his daughter more than anything," Lester Fuller said.

One neighbor told The Buffalo News the couple moved into the apartment around Labor Day. Another neighbor said she saw emergency responders when they were called to the home one afternoon earlier this month.

Erie County Child Protective Services contacted investigators from the Sheriff's Office at about 10:30 p.m. Sept. 10 when the toddler was in the intensive care unit at Oishei, the Sheriff's Office said.

That afternoon, Raelynn had been taken to the hospital "after the child reportedly had passed out and was experiencing trouble breathing" at a home on Grand Island, the Sheriff's Office said. "However, it was discovered the child sustained injuries resulting in her being unresponsive."

Valenti called Cody Fuller while he was at work and told him his daughter was having trouble breathing, Lester Fuller said. Cody told her to call an ambulance, he said.

The next day, Valenti was arrested and charged with reckless assault of a child and assault through conduct causing a risk of death. She was arraigned in Grand Island Town Court on Sept. 12.

Valenti remained in custody in the Erie County Holding Center on Tuesday morning.

Lester Fuller described his granddaughter as "always smiling." She always seemed happy when she visited and "just started getting her own little voice."

"I'd hear her hollering 'papa' all the way up the stairs," he said.

Services for Raelynn have not been finalized.

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