A man accused of killing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son has pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges related to the domestic violence case, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said Tuesday.
Samuel Aguilar, 24, entered guilty pleas Monday to one count each of voluntary manslaughter and injuring a girlfriend, two counts of child abuse, and three counts of dissuading a witness, according to a DA’s office news release.
Aguilar and his girlfriend, 26-year-old Jessica Cereceres, were living together with the woman’s two small children, ages 1 and 2, in August 2014 when the 2-year-old boy was taken to the hospital for treatment of body trauma, according to the release. The pair lived in Signal Hill, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The little boy — identified by the Times as Josue Rey Maldonado — had bruising “all over his body,” the newspaper reported, citing a court document.
He was later pronounced dead, and law enforcement began looking into his death.
During the investigation, the 1-year-old boy was also found to have sustained injuries to his body, according to prosecutors.
Authorities also determined the 2-year-old died from blunt force trauma to the stomach and head, and that the injuries occurred while the little boy was in Aguilar’s care and after a physical argument with Cereceres, the release stated.
Witnesses told investigators that they observed Aguilar abusing the children in front of their mother, and she did not intervene, according to the DA’s office.
Cereceres, who pleaded no contest to two felony counts of child abuse related to the same case, was sentenced earlier this year to five years and four months in state prison back, the release said.
On two occasions the mother had been reported to police for potentially putting her children’s welfare in jeopardy, the Times reported.
In one instance, six months before Josue’s death, his aunt suspected the mother was too intoxicated to care for the little boy and alerted Long Beach police to possible neglect, according to the newspaper. However, officers found no signs of intoxication and eventually left.
County social workers also investigated a complaint that the toddler had been abandoned. They found evidence that he was neglected by both his mother and father, according to a report obtained by the Times.
The father was named a key danger to the boy’s welfare, while Cereceres — deemed a “non-offending parent” — was ordered to receive services to improve her parenting skills, county officials told the newspaper. Child welfare workers decided to leave him in her custody.
Aguilar, due back in court on Sept. 21, faces a possible state prison sentence of 32 years and four months, prosecutors said.