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Couple convicted of child abuse back in court

by Gregory Crofton, Tahoe Daily Tribune

A couple convicted of beating their 2-year-old daughter with a sandal, belt and electrical cord at South Lake Tahoe in 1999, were back in a California courtroom Monday, this time accused of scalding their 2-year-old son.

Alfredo and Maria Esquivel, both 25, are charged with seven felonies because their son suffered second- and third-degree burns on 20 percent of his body. Prosecutors claim the couple, who now live in Oxnard, Calif., held their son in 146-degree bath water after he soiled his pants on the way to the bathroom.

On Monday, according the Los Angeles Times, the Esquivels pleaded not guilty to the charges, two of which carry the possibility of a life sentence. The boy’s burns were discovered 18 hours after they were inflicted in late December. His grandmother took him to a Tijuana, Mexico hospital after the Esquivels made his burns worse by treating them with home remedies such as egg whites and aloe vera, a detective said.

The boy was transported from Tijuana to UC San Diego Medical Center and treated for burns and life-threatening infections. He is now in stable condition. His parents are due in court March 14 for a preliminary hearing.

In April 1999, South Lake Tahoe law enforcement questioned the Esquivels, who lived on Figueroa Lane, off Pioneer Trail, about possible child abuse. The Police Department began its investigation after El Dorado County welfare employees noticed bruises on a little girl’s face.

The girl was the 2 year-old daughter of the Esquivels. El Dorado County Assistant District Attorney Hans Uthe said court records indicate Maria told investigators that she had beaten her daughter with a belt and sandal. She said her husband used an electrical cord.

Investigators also discovered the girl had a fracture in the left side of her jaw. The couple told police officers they beat their child for being difficult. Investigators determined some of the bruises on the child’s face were caused by forced feeding.

The couple was sentenced in June 1999 in El Dorado County Superior Court after they each pleaded no contest to corporal punishment or injury of a child, a felony.

A judge sentenced Alfredo to 270 days in jail, a psychological evaluation and anger management classes. Uthe said records indicate Alfredo had a court-ordered hold put on him, which normally means a person is transported out of the country after they have served their jail sentence.

His wife was sentenced to 90 days in jail — a sentence never imposed — as well as a psychological evaluation and child abuse counseling. Three years probation were also imposed on both Esquivels.

The probation sentence was terminated Nov. 30, 2001, during a hearing in which a judge also decided the Esquivels were not capable of paying court fees they owed.

— Jenifer Ragland, a staff writer at the Los Angeles Times contributed this report.


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