A 33-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing his three young sons inside an SUV in South Los Angeles was ordered Wednesday to remain jailed without bail, as his arraignment was postponed for a second time.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio C. Tapia II rescheduled arraignment to Oct. 27 for Luiz Fuentes, who is charged in the Sept. 9 killings of his sons, Alexander, 8, Juan, 9, and Luis, 10.
The murder charges include the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, which makes him eligible for the death penalty if convicted. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has yet to decide whether to pursue capital punishment.
Fuentes appeared to be crying when he walked into a courtroom lockup this morning. He had been brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair for his initial court appearance last month.
Fuentes was found around 7 a.m. Sept. 9 when a passerby saw him sitting in the front seat of an SUV parked in the 300 block of East 32nd Street. The man approached the vehicle and saw the children’s bodies inside.
Fuentes was covered in blood and suffering from stab wounds. Police believe he stabbed himself. He was hospitalized, then booked on suspicion of murder two days later.
A pastor said during a vigil at the scene that Fuentes had been having financial problems and was living in the SUV with the boys, whose mother died in 2008.
The Los Angeles Times reported that Fuentes had been suffering from depression, and that the county Department of Children and Family Services was investigating whether social workers adequately probed some allegations that the boys were at risk and whether staff responded appropriately to what they learned.
A hotline call to DCFS in September 2010 reporting abuse of the children led social workers to determine that the allegation was true, the newspaper reported, citing anonymous officials with the department.
Lawyers for the DCFS petitioned the juvenile court to open a case, officials told The Times, and the boys remained in the father’s home until the case was closed about a year later.
Two more hotline calls alleging physical abuse were made in April 2014, sources told The Times. Social workers who investigated the allegations finally marked the claims “inconclusive” last year.
—City News Service