A California couple who have been under suspicion of causing their four-year-old son’s death have been indicted on torture and murder charges, more than six months after the toddler was found unresponsive in a pool.
A grand jury returned the indictment against Jose Maria Cuatro Jr, 28, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 25, on January 23 for one count each of murder and torture in the July 2019 death of their son, Noah Cuatro.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced the indictment against the couple on Tuesday, revealing in a press release that the boy’s father also faces allegations that he had raped Noah before his death.
California parents Jose Maria Cuatro Jr, 28, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 25, have been indicted on one count each of murder and torture in the July 2019 death of their son, Noah Cuatro (left)
The couple called 911 on July 5, saying their 4-year-old son nearly drowned in this pool in their Palmdale apartment complex
The parents allegedly tortured Noah over the course of four months leading up to his killing
In addition to murder and torture, Cuatro has been indicted on one count each of assault on a child causing death and sexual penetration with a child under the age of 10, while Juarez faces an additional count of child abuse under circumstances likely to cause death.
Bail is recommended at $4million for Cuatro and $3million for Juarez. Both parents are expected to be arraigned on February 19.
According to a press release’s from the district attorney’s office, Cuatro and Juarez are both accused of killing their son on July 5, 2019, at the apartment in Palmdale.
‘Jose Cuatro allegedly sexually assaulted his son on the same date,’ the statement read.
Over the course of four months leading up to Noah’s killing, the parents allegedly tortured the child, according to the indictment.
Cuatro and Juarez took him to the hospital on the afternoon on July 5, claiming that he had nearly drowned in their apartment complex swimming pool.
The indictment alleges that Cuatro sexually assaulting his toddler son (left and right) on the day he died. The father faces a count of sexual penetration with a child under the age of 10
But medical staff soon became suspicious after they found signs of trauma on the four-year-old’s body. Noah died at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles the next day.
Just days after his death, Noah’s great-grandmother, Eva Hernandez, spoke with multiple news outlets telling reporters that Noah had been taken from his parents’ care a number of times, beginning when he was just a baby.
He supposedly spent the first few months of his life in and out of foster care before Hernandez was able to gain custody of him.
She cared for him for six months until Noah was allowed to return to his parents’ care. But just a year later, Jose and Ursula lost custody once more with officials determining that Noah had been neglected.
Police documents claim that he was so malnourished that he couldn’t walk.
Great-grandmother Eva Hernandez previously said Noah had been in and out of foster care since he was born, and that he begged her in 2018 not to return to his parents
Juarez, a mother-of-three, faces an additional count of child abuse under circumstances likely to cause death in Noah’s killing
After another stay in foster care, Hernandez cared for him for two years until November 2018 when he pleaded not to go back to his parents.
‘I told the social workers, “Please, he doesn’t want to leave. He wants to stay here. He begged me”,’ Hernandez told KTLA. ‘He would hold on to me and say, “Don’t send me back, grandma.” I don’t know. I couldn’t do anything. I just had to send him back.’
Noah was returned to his parents again last November, and Hernandez cried that by the time she saw him again six months later, the little boy was clearly in need of help.
Between March and April 2019, several reports of suspected child abuse involving Noah came to light, with one report claiming that the child had gone to the hospital with bruises on his back.
The following month, a caseworker filed a 26-page request to again remove Noah from Jose and Ursula’s custody, following accusations the boy’s father had kicked Ursula and their children in public.
Even though a judge granted the request, Noah was never returned to foster care.
The deceased boy’s two-year-old sister and infant brother have been removed from their parents’ care.
If convicted at trial, Cuatro faces up to 47 years to life in state prison and Juarez could be looking at up to 32 years to life in prison.