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Trial Set for Relatives of 2 Slain Children

March 28, 2000|EDGAR SANDOVAL

The father, mother and aunt of two children whom they allegedly killed and buried in the forest two years ago will stand trial July 10 in San Fernando Superior Court, court officials said Monday.

The father, Marcos Esquivel Barrera, is accused of beating the 5-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl to death and burying their bodies in Angeles National Forest. The mother, Petra Ricardo Barrera, and her sister, Maria Ricardo Barrera, are accused of failing to intervene.

All three suspects have used various names in the past, officials said.

Police charged the father with murder, assault on a child younger than 8 years old causing death, child abuse and corporal injury to a child. The two sisters face accessory to murder and child abuse charges, officials said.

Investigators said they discovered the body of the little boy, Ernesto Barrera, in March 1998 when they found the father, aunt and some of the family's other children holding an impromptu burial off Lopez Canyon north of Pacoima.

Both the father and aunt were arrested at the time and investigators soon learned they had allegedly buried 2-year-old Guadalupe in the same mountains a few months before, officials said. Deputies arrested the mother a few months later.

The boy suffered a broken arm and leg and 14 of his ribs had been fractured and in various stages of healing when he died, according to the coroner's report. The girl had suffered two broken legs, a broken arm and a broken collarbone in the weeks or months before her death. She was killed when her head was pounded by or against a hard object, cracking her skull, according to information from the autopsy.

Prosecutors say Petra Ricardo Barrera allowed five of her children to live with their father even though she knew he was abusive and Maria Ricardo Barrera only watched as the children were beaten.

Marcos was a street vendor and had as many as 13 children with the dead boy's mother, Petra, and her sister, Maria.

Petra lived with some of the children in a rented room on Mineola Street in Arleta. Marcos and Maria and the rest of the children lived about two miles away in a converted garage on Desmond Street in Pacoima.

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