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San Diego prosecutor: Toddler found in duffel bag died of drowning; couple charged

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A neighbor at the couple’s former Whittier address identified the people in this photo as Mercy Becerra and Johnny Hartley. The photo was posted to Facebook on May 1, 2016. (Photo via KTLA/Los Angeles)

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego prosecutor says a toddler girl whose body was found inside a duffel bag carried by a California man attempting to enter Mexico had drowned at a home in the Los Angeles suburb of Whittier and suffered from malnutrition and dehydration.

Deputy District Attorney Kurt Mechals gave few other details Friday into the case. He declined to say whether the parents were involved in any way, whether the couple was taking care of the child, or discuss the motive and why they were taking the body to Mexico.

Johnny Lewis Hartley and Mercy Mary Becerra were charged Friday with one count of murder each.

Mexican officials stopped the couple Tuesday while they were trying to cross into Tijuana from San Diego at the San Ysidro port of entry.