Indio couple accused of killing infant must stand trial

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An Indio couple accused of the death of their infant son are to be tried on murder and other felony charges, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

Leonardo Daniel Alvarado Fernandez, 34, and Zue Urias, 27, were arrested in January 2020 after police responded to a report that they had taken their deceased son Marco to a hospital in Indio. He was two days old from being 3 months old when he died.

Following a five-day preliminary hearing at the Larson Justice Center in Indio, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Dean Benjamini ruled that prosecutors had presented sufficient evidence for the two defendants to stand. on trial for murder and assault on a child under 8 resulting in death. ,

Fernandez was further held to answer for one count of torture and two counts of willful cruelty to a child, although Benjamini ruled that insufficient evidence had been presented to hold Fernandez on a special circumstance allegation of inflicting torture, which made him eligible for capital punishment if found guilty.

The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office previously announced plans to seek the death penalty for Fernandez. It was not clear whether prosecutors planned to re-file the special circumstances allegation.

Benjamini has scheduled an arraignment after the preliminary hearing for June 14. Fernandez remains in custody without bail, while Urias is being held on $ 2 million bail.

Police were dispatched to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio around 4:30 a.m. on January 16, 2020, on a report that two parents brought their dead child, who had suffered traumatic injuries, according to the police department. from Indio.

Fernandez and Urias were arrested for murder later today.

Indio Police Department Detective Justino Perez said Fernandez and Urias first told him the boy fell during a hike, though both later admitted to lying.

Perez said Urias said her boyfriend – Fernandez – killed the infant and that she saw him shake him twice because he kept crying before he was taken to hospital .

Indio Police Department officer Mark Robles said a doctor reported the child was brought in “cold to the touch”. The doctor said the infant appeared to be dead for about a day.

Deputy District Attorney Shea Strand said the baby suffered from multiple skull fractures, brain hemorrhages and 18 rib fractures, as well as bruises on several parts of his body, and that he was little likely that the tremors alone were responsible for all his injuries.

Strand also pointed out that Urias had not helped her son, if she had indeed seen her boyfriend abuse the boy. Urias reportedly admitted to detectives that she had done nothing to stop him, according to court documents.

Flores reportedly said her boyfriend started abusing the boy in late December 2019, more than two weeks before his death, Perez said.

Flores said a social worker reported that a “general neglect” investigation was underway on Flores because she did not receive antenatal care before giving birth to Marco. Flores told police she didn’t realize she was pregnant until several months into her pregnancy.

Once Marco was born in October 2019, Fernandez reportedly accused his girlfriend of cheating on him, citing Marco’s paler skin color compared to his siblings, Perez said.

Fernandez, in a separate interview, reportedly admitted to rocking his son, Perez said.

The couple were reportedly recorded by police saying the infant death was “God’s will” and that after posting bail they planned to flee to their native Mexico, the Indio Police Department detective wrote. , Kelly Hawkins, in a bail increase statement.

The same document states that the child died from blunt trauma and physical abuse.

The couple’s other three children were placed in the custody of Riverside County Child Protection Services after taking Marco to hospital, police said.

None of the defendants have documented felony convictions in Riverside County.

Indio couple accused of killing infant must stand trial was last modified: June 1, 2021 through Contributing editor

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