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Soldier, Wife Appear In Court On Murder Charges Following Death Of Her Son

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — A Fort Bragg soldier and his wife made their first court appearance Tuesday, answering to murder charges in connection to what police called one of the worst cases of child abuse they have seen.

Lance Totland, 4, died Thursday during emergency surgery at Womack Army Medical Center. His mother and stepfather brought the boy to the hospital about 11 a.m. Thursday with numerous injuries, including the one that killed him.

Authorities have not released the cause of death.

The couple, Joshua Noriega, 26, and Jessica Noriega, 25, were arrested Monday night, police said. They were being held in the Cumberland County Jail without bail.

Joshua Noriega is a soldier at Fort Bragg.

Fayetteville police Detective Sgt. Ralph Clinkscales said the Noriegas married May 15 after Jessica Noriega came to Fayetteville from Park Rapids, Minn. Five months later, Clinkscales said, the couple started abusing Lance.

According to the arrest warrant, Lance had been hit in the stomach, had severe bruising, a black eye and cuts on the foot.

The Noriegas are charged with one count of murder and four counts of child abuse.

Lance's biological father, Brian Scott Totland, is not from North Carolina. Police said they do not know where he lives.


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