Judge Weighing Death Declaration for Missing Toddler Ayla Reynolds

The mother of missing toddler Ayla Reynolds is asking a judge to declare her legally dead.

An attorney for Trista Reynolds said a death declaration is the first step in filing a civil, wrongful death lawsuit against Ayla's father, Justin DiPietro.

The 20-month-old was reported missing in December of 2011 from DiPietro's Waterville, Maine home, triggering the largest search and criminal investigation in Maine state history.

"We have no information or evidence to say that Ayla is alive," said Maine State Police Lt. Jeff Love.

Love and Trista Reynolds were the two witnesses who testified at a probate hearing in Portland Thursday. A judge is expected to issue a decision about a death declaration in the next few days.

Love told the judge that Maine State Police do not believe Ayla is alive. The only evidence he cited was the toddler's blood, found in DiPietro's basement.

He said the case has brought in a record 1,554 leads, and that the investigation is still active. No one has been charged.

William Childs, the attorney representing Trista Reynolds, said the wrongful death case could put pressure on the people who last saw Ayla alive.

Childs said they have already deposed DiPietro's sister and ex-girlfriend, and they plan to speak to DiPietro as well. He is living in California, and did not respond to the court's notice of Ayla's death declaration hearing.

"I think everyone was kind of wondering where he was today," said Love.

Trista Reynolds did not speak to reporters outside of the courthouse Thursday. Her stepfather, Jeff Hanson, sent necn the following statement:

"Ayla Reynolds' case has affected a lot of people over these last six years. Today, a death certificate for Ayla may make it official for us. Unfortunately for Trista, in her heart of hearts, her baby Ayla dies everyday. Today is another day in justice for us and in justice for Ayla."

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