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Santa Ana Parents Charged With Murder in Starvation Death of 22-Month-Old Son

Santa Ana parents are accused of murder in death of 22-month-old. They also have 2 'healthy' girls.

June 12, 2004|Susan Anasagasti and Kevin Pang | Times Staff Writers

A Santa Ana couple have been charged in the starvation death of their 22-month-old son, authorities said Friday.

Jorge Luis Sanchez, 27, and Maria Guadalupe Sanchez, 21, are being held on $1-million bail each. They are charged with murder and willful injury to a child.

Their son, Jorge Sanchez Jr., was having difficulty breathing when paramedics responded shortly after midnight on Aug. 24 to the Tustin home where the family lived, authorities said. The child was taken to Tustin Hospital and Medical Center, where he died two hours later.

Tustin police spokesman Sgt. Mark Hein described the child's condition as "extremely emaciated." The boy weighed 9 pounds 3 ounces when he was born in October 2001. At 9 months, he weighed 25 pounds. The coroner's office listed his weight as 17 pounds at the time of his death.

"It was horrific," Hein said. "It's difficult to describe because I've never seen anything like this in person. He was basically a skeleton wrapped in skin."

The couple also have two daughters, a 3-year-old and an infant. Hein said both were "perfectly healthy" and were placed in protective custody with a relative after the boy's death. Before their arrest Wednesday, the parents were allowed supervised visits with their daughters.

Hein said the 10-month gap between the boy's death and the couple's arrest was due to extensive investigations by the coroner's office.

"They ran every kind of test imaginable," he said. "They wanted to make sure that the cause of death wasn't related to any possible disease that could have taken over the poor child's body ... but nothing came up. That's when we concluded that it was chronic starvation."

Jorge Luis Sanchez was in court briefly Friday, but his arraignment was postponed to June 25. His wife is scheduled to appear in court Monday.

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