Alleged Child Abuse Jury Trial Ongoing: Two Expert Witnesses Shed Light on the Realities of Malnutrition


By Julia Urquizo 

RIVERSIDE, CA – Expert witnesses were called to testify Tuesday morning at the Riverside County Superior Court in the jury trial of *** and ###, who were arrested  Jan. 11, 2018 for torture against minors, after one of the victims was found running away from home with their younger sibling. 

NOTE: The Vanguard will not identify the couple to protect the identity of juveniles

See previous story:

One of the victims testified previously on Sept. 30 about the sandwiches they were forced to eat. The sandwiches were said to be composed of either raw yolk or a combination of olives, tomatoes, and onions. 

The victim further testified to being denied the privilege of drinking water at home and often had to resort to drinking water from shower heads or the sink. 

A victim that was six years old at the time of the couples’ arrest in 2018 was reported during the other victim’s testimony to have trouble walking. The six-year-old was also subject to deprivation of water, the strange sandwiches, and alleged physical abuse. 

A pediatric dietician from Riverside University Health System Medical Center was called to the stand regarding his assessment of the victim, and reported seeing the physical criteria associated with being malnourished and underweight on the six-year-old’s body. 

They observed the six-year-old’s sunken temporal regions on the head, sunken eyes, and a decreased amount of fat and muscle behind the victim’s clavicle. 

The dietician stated the six-year-old’s weight was 35 pounds. District Attorney Gary Polk asked whether this was a normal weight for a six-year-old of their sex to be, to which the expert witness responded that it was not even close to common, stating earlier that the six-year-old appeared to be “skin and bones.” 

During cross-examination, defense counsel Richard Swanson highlighted how the expert witness did not know of the caloric intake the six-year-old would receive from school lunches and breakfasts. Additionally, the six-year-old had been sick with the flu prior to his admission.

The next expert witness was a pediatrician that was contracted with Riverside University Health Systems Medical Center, and DDA Polk presented photographic evidence of bruising and abrasions on the six-year-old’s body. 

The pediatrician testified to seeing bruises on the victim’s hips and that he had contacted forensics for further consulting about potential physical abuse at the time. 

Both of the expert witnesses reported that the victim’s weight hit the 75th percentile at birth. Once the victim came into the doctors care around Jan. 2018, the victim’s weight was then below the 0.5 percentile—indicative of severe malnourishment. The pediatrician also noted the victim had anemia. 

DDA Polk asked if nutritional anemia and malnutrition could cause weakness to muscles and fatigues, and the pediatrician confirmed, adding the body will experience generalized low energy. So day to day activities like walking and tiredness can cause trouble for someone suffering from malnutrition and anemia. 

Upon defense counsel Swanson’s cross-examination of the expert witness, the court discovered that the victim’s conditions could be reversed with proper nutrition. The pediatrician testified that the victim was gaining weight and growing taller during the time the victim was under his care. 

The court is set to reconvene the jury trial at a later time not stated. 


About The Author

Julia was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She studies Sociology and Entrepreneurship at UCLA.

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