By Jeff Haslam, Luke Kyaw, Julia Urquizo, and Jake Wylie
RIVERSIDE, CA – In a jury trial here in Riverside County Superior Court Thursday of alleged child cruelty and torture by a Moreno Valley couple, the eldest victim testified about the abuses that they and their two siblings suffered.
Note – the Vanguard will not be reporting the names of the victims or defendants for confidentiality reasons.
On April 27, 2018, the District Attorney’s Fugitive Apprehension Unit and Pacific Southwest Regional Fugitive Task Force apprehended a Moreno Valley couple in Alabama. The two were caught while fleeing the state after being charged with torture and child cruelty of their three children.
Police responded to their home in 2018 on a child endangerment call, after the witness and their younger sister escaped through the bars of their bedroom window and ran away. Arriving at the scene, the police discovered the youngest of the children sick on the floor of a bedroom.
Law enforcement separated the children from the couple, who were promptly arrested.
The witness explained the couple began to physically abuse the three children once they began living together. The witness was four or five years old at the time.
Photograph evidence was presented in court pertaining to a refrigerator and a picture of a window. The window photographed displayed the metal bars that the witness and their sister had to climb through in order to escape the household.
Deputy District Attorney Gary Polk also pointed out an abundance of food atop the refrigerator, seen in a photograph. The witness testified that their two other siblings and themselves had never been able to eat any of the food. Rather, the couple would force them to eat sandwiches filled with olives, onions, tomatoes, and at times even raw yolk.
At times, the witness said they were forced to consume up to 10 sandwiches. The witness recalled one instance when, after accidentally vomiting the sandwiches they had been forced to eat, the witness was forced to eat the regurgitated contents.
The witness also explained the couple didn’t allow them to use either of the restrooms in the home. As a result, the witness had to urinate or defecate on their bed or on themself, which only angered the couple. “I would get (beat), or they would make me eat those sandwiches,” the witness said.
Punished for being caught drinking water, the witness said that they and their younger sister would sneak drinks from the faucet of the kitchen sink or while taking showers. The witness’ younger brother is alleged to have once consumed water from a toilet bowl in the house.
Additionally, the father would sometimes force his children to spend the night outside.
“When I’d get done eating [the sandwiches], he would just get the mattress and throw it outside, and say we have to sleep outside,” the witness said. “It was cold, and sometimes we didn’t have any blankets or anything.”
The defense counsel Richard Swanson also submitted evidence of the witness smiling in various photographs with the father after church meetings in Sept. 2017. The witness testified that all they remembered were the meetings and being unhappy.
The trial is ongoing.