An Indio woman allegedly told police that her boyfriend killed their infant son by shaking him two times because he wouldn’t stop crying, a police detective testified Tuesday.
A preliminary hearing got underway at the Larson Justice Center in Indio for Leonardo Daniel Alvarado Fernandez, 34, and Zue Urias, 27, who are accused in the beating and shaking death of their son Marcos Fabian Fernandez in January 2020. He was two days away from turning 3 months old when he died.
Preliminary hearings typically entail prosecutors presenting evidence so that a judge can determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.
The hearing is set to stretch over several days into early next week, according to prosecutors.
Both defendants are charged with murder and assault on a child under 8 years old resulting in death, while Fernandez additionally faces one count of torture and two counts of willful cruelty to a child, along with a special circumstance allegation of inflicting torture, which makes him eligible for capital punishment if convicted.
The Riverside County District Attorney’s Office previously announced it intended to seek the death penalty for Fernandez.
Police were sent to John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio about 4:30 a.m. on Jan. 16, 2020, on a report that two parents had brought in their dead child, who had suffered traumatic injuries, according to the Indio Police Department. The defendants were arrested on suspicion of murder later that day.
Indio police Detective Justino Perez testified that both Fernandez and Urias initially told him that the boy suffered injuries during a hike, although both later admitted to lying, the detective said.
Perez testified that Urias said her boyfriend — Fernandez — killed the infant, and that she witnessed him shake him twice because he wouldn’t stop crying sometime before he was taken to the hospital.
Indio police Officer Mark Robles said a doctor reported the child was brought in “cold to the touch.” The doctor said the infant appeared to have been dead about a day.
Deputy District Attorney Shea Strand pointed out the baby suffered a skull fracture and 18 rib fractures, along with bruising over several parts of his body, and that it was unlikely the shaking alone accounted for all his injuries.
Strand also pointed out that Urias failed to render aid to her son, if she did indeed witness her boyfriend abuse the boy. Urias allegedly admitted to detectives she did nothing to stop it, court papers say.
Flores allegedly said that her boyfriend began abusing the boy in late December 2019, more than two weeks before he died, Perez testified.
The detective said a social worker reported that a “general neglect” investigation was underway into Flores because she failed to receive prenatal care prior to giving birth to Marcos. Flores told police she didn’t realize she was pregnant until several months into the pregnancy.
Once Marcos was born in October 2019, Fernandez allegedly accused his girlfriend of cheating on him, citing Marcos’ paler skin color compared to his siblings, Perez testified.
Fernandez, in a separate interview, allegedly admitted to shaking his son, Perez said.
The couple were allegedly recorded by police saying the infant’s death was “God’s will,” and that after they posted bail, they planned to flee to their native Mexico, Indio police Detective Kelly Hawkins wrote in a bail increase declaration.
The same document says the child died due to blunt force trauma and physical abuse.
The couple’s three other children were placed in the custody of Riverside County Child Protective Services after they brought Marcos into the hospital, according to police.
Fernandez remains in custody without bail, while Urias is being held on $2 million bail.
Neither defendant has any documented felony convictions in Riverside County.