SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - A horrific case of alleged child abuse has surfaced after a Skyline mother was charged in San Diego court with torturing her eight-year-old daughter.
Maria Luisa Garcia, 34, is facing felony child abuse charges and a felony count for torture. Prosecutors say she burned her young daughter's fingers on a hot stove as punishment for not completing her chores.
Garcia pleaded not guilty and was free on $50,000 bail and awaiting trial, as of Friday night.
Garcia's defense attorney Zoi Jones says her client is not guilty. "Her entire world has been turned upside down and she is wrongly accused."
According to a search warrant obtained by News8, Garcia is the mother of eight children, ages nine months to 16 years.
The documents state that Garcia "intentionally burned (her daughter's) fingers on an electric stove as punishment for not doing her chores."
But a man who spoke to News8 outside Garcia's home, who said he is also the father of at least one of her children, said the abuse allegations are untrue.
The alleged abuse was first brought to the attention of the little girl's teacher at Freese Elementary School on January 16, sparking an investigation by police and Social Services.
Court documents show that the girl told a social worker that her mother "burned her fingers one by one on the stove" because she failed to pick up her toys and clothes.
The girl also stated her mother would choke her, claiming that in one instance "she felt she could not breathe."
According to the search warrant, Maria Garcia also "hit her with a broom stick (without the broom portion) and a belt 'with grey skeletons'" on it.
Authorities executing the search warrant on Garcia's home recovered a black broken broom handle in a utility closet.
A doctor who later examined the girl at Rady Children's documented the little girl's injuries and ruled that they "were consistent with her allegations."
Jones defended her client saying she "is a good mother. She is a single mother. She goes to school at night and she takes care of her kids."
Following the investigation, the eight-year-old girl and an 11-year-old brother were both placed into protective custody, according to court documents. However, Garcia's attorney told News8 that was not accurate.
Garcia is expected back in court in March, with her preliminary hearing scheduled for March 20th.