Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
Email: | Twitter: @mhernandezwwl

NEW ORLEANS - Zion Harris would have turned two next week. Instead, her family is planning her funeral.

'She was a happy-go-lucky kid,' said Zion's great aunt, Cassandra Norman 'I mean, it's just unbelievable.'

Relatives say Zion's stepfather noticed she wasn't herself when he took her to City Park Tuesday morning. The toddler later became unresponsive at her grandmother's home in the 4100 block of Gibson Street.

She died at the hospital around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

'She was just playing and climbing around before we left, and for me to come back and find out, I just can't deal with it. I can't,' said Norman.

Even more difficult for family members is the fact that police believe Zion died at the hands of her mother.

Investigators say Michelle Harris, 28, struck her daughter so hard, the child died from a liver laceration.

Police say Harris did it because Zion wasn't listening to her. She is now charged with second-degree murder.

Family members say Zion, her two young sisters, and her mother were visiting from Atlanta to support a relative who is fighting cancer. They just arrived last week and were staying at Zion's grandmother's home.

Relatives say Zion's stepfather lives in New Orleans full-time.

Relatives are now caring for Zion's sisters, ages three and four months old.

Harris has no prior record in Orleans Parish. It's unclear if this was an isolated incident or if there was previous abuse that went unreported, or that was reported in other jurisdictions.

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