The uncle of a 9-year-old boy who died after being beaten in June 2015 has pleaded guilty to first degree child abuse.
Jacob Barajas was accused of handcuffing Jack Garcia to a chair because he took a piece of birthday cake meant for another child, the Herald Mail reported.
Barajas made the plea as jury selection began in his trial. Other charges, including second degree murder and child abuse resulting in death, were dropped as a result.
The incident occurred June 30, 2015, when Barajas was watching the children. Robert Wilson, the boyfriend of Jack’s mother Oriana Garcia, came home and discovered Jack had eaten a piece of birthday cake.
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After Barajas allegedly handcuffed Jack to the chair, Wilson beat Jack severely. The boy suffered fatal head injuries and bruising all over his body.
Although Barajas never struck Jack, he admitted to police that Jack was frequently punished for taking food.
Regarding how punishments were determined, according to the statement of facts, Barajas said, “every single decision ... was something we all decided and agreed upon,” the Herald Mail reports.
Barajas also told investigators that Jack was regularly punished for stealing food. The boy was often handcuffed for several hours a day as a punishment, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Mollett-Gaumar.
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Barajas called an ambulance when he saw Jack had lost consciousness. However, Oriana ordered paramedics to leave when they arrived, saying that her son was congested but getting better.
It was only four hours later that Jack was taken to the hospital and the serious head injuries were discovered. Jack died a week later on July 5, 2015.
During their arrest in July 2015, a judge ruled that Oriana Garcia and Barajas could be held without bond. The prosecution argued they represented flight risks because they had purchased tickets to fly to Washington state, the Herald Mail reported.
Wilson pleaded guilty to second degree murder and is currently serving a 30-year sentence. Oriana is due in court in February 2017 on several charges, including second degree murder.
Barajas will be sentenced after Oriana’s trial. He could face up to 15 years behind bars, but defense attorney Stephen Sacks plans to argue for a shorter sentence.