Police in Sandy Springs, just north of Atlanta, are holding the girl, whose name was not released, in juvenile detention after issuing warrants charging her with felony murder and child cruelty, The Associated Press reported.
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his office will determine what charges will be formally filed after reviewing the full police report. "On receipt of that report, we will conduct our own investigation and make a decision on the appropriate charges," Howard's office said in a statement.
Ashlea Collier, the toddler's mother, said she left her daughter with a co-worker and the co-worker's daughter. When she came to get Zyda White after getting off work, the child was lying in bed, her eyes wide open and her skin turning blue, WSBTV in Atlanta reported.
"She needs to do life," the weeping mother said of the 11-year-old. Collier said the girl told her that Zyda had fallen out of bed. The girl put Zyda back to bed and gave her apple juice. "That was it," Collier said the girl told her.
Paramedics transported the toddler to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. An autopsy determined Zyda died from blunt force trauma to her head and suffered heavy trauma to her torso and buttocks.
Legal experts question whether the 11-year-old could be tried as an adult.
"The serious question is whether or not the state can go ahead with an adult charge," Ron Carlson, University of Georgia Law School dean emeritus, told the Journal-Constitution. "We're going to have to let the courts decide that one, because criminal responsibility is limited to those older than 12 years old."
In 2006, the Georgia General Assembly passed Amy's Law, which lengthened the time a juvenile over age 13 could be held for committing a felony. The law was named for 8-year-old Amy Yates, who was strangled in 2004 by a 12-year-old boy. He was held for two years -- the maximum allowed under then-existing law.
The limit is now five years or until the perpetrator's 21st birthday, the Journal-Constitution says.