A Lancaster father was charged Tuesday in the deaths of his 12-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter who were found killed in their home last week, prosecutors said.
Maurice Jewel Taylor Sr., 34, faces two felony counts each of murder and child abuse under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death, according to Ricardo Santiago, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
L.A. County sheriff’s officials, who are investigating the case, say the child abuse charges are related to two surviving children.
Authorities have yet to publicly identify the two children found killed in the home on the 45000 block of Century Circle last Friday morning.
Deputies originally responded to the home after a gas leak was reported. They found the children dead inside, having suffered “some type of a sharp trauma” from “either a stabbing or slicing device,” sheriff’s Lt. Brandon Dean said at the time.
Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told the Los Angeles Times that both victims were decapitated, calling the incident “pretty brutal.”
Homicide investigators questioned a man, woman and two other children found in the home, and Taylor was arrested later that day.
Deputies say they also sought to attach a weapons enhancement to Taylor’s charges, but the DA’s office declined under a policy ushered in Tuesday by incoming DA George Gascón.
In one of several directives issued on the day he was sworn in, Gascón says his office will not use certain types of sentencing enhancements because “the current statutory ranges for criminal offenses alone, without enhancements, are sufficient to both hold people accountable and also to protect public safety.”
Taylor is set to be arraigned Dec. 21, according to prosecutors. Deputies say he remained in custody Tuesday on $4.2 million bail.
He faces a possible maximum sentence of more than 57 years to life in state prison if convicted as charged, the DA’s Office said.