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Police: Bad heart didn't kill 3-year-old

A 3-year-old girl was found dead by her grandmother in a northwest Charlotte apartment Thursday morning and police say they are looking for a 20-year-old man in connection with the death.

Shaniya Makayla Smith's grandmother found her not breathing and unresponsive about 8 a.m. Thursday. Paramedics who responded performed CPR and took Shaniya to Carolinas Medical Center, where she died.

Investigators and neighbors initially believed the girl died of natural causes, because she had congenital heart problems. Homicide detectives launched an investigation, which is standard in such cases. On Friday, the medical examiner said the toddler died because of internal injuries. A police report said the girl died of head trauma.

Homicide detectives were seeking Andre Cortez Price. They obtained murder warrants on him Friday afternoon, but have not elaborated on Price's relationship to the child.

Price has a criminal history dating to 2005, when he was charged with disorderly conduct. He was also charged with injuring property in 2006 and 2007 and, in one case, given nine months of probation and ordered to stay away from the victim.

Anyone with information on the crime should call 704-432-TIPS to speak with a homicide detective. Tipsters can also call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Callers can remain anonymous and are eligible for rewards up to $1,000 for information that leads to an arrest.

WCNC-TV (36) contributed.
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