Hoping to spare at least one child from a similar fate, more than two dozen people gathered at the grave of Brianna Lopez for what would have been her 12th birthday Friday.
The child, born on a day of love, Valentine's Day, died at 5 months old after suffering physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father and uncle.
Known as "Baby Brianna," her story struck a chord with people around the world and led to significant changes in New Mexico's child abuse laws.
The crowd on Friday, partly mourning and partly celebrating Brianna's short life, let go of balloons to "Wind Beneath My Wings," sung by Orlando-Antonio Jimenez of La Mesa.
The group stood around a cradle with a doll handmade by a woman in California to look like Brianna. The doll's eyes were closed, peaceful, imitating the lone photo of Brianna: her autopsy photo.
Gatherers left gifts and flowers inside the open cage encompassing the gravestone.
Jimenez said he knows there are some people who don't want the biannual memorials for Brianna to continue. But if they save even one child, he said, they're worth it.
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