Two Indio parents accused in the beating and shaking death of their 3-month-old son are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday for a hearing that could determine whether they stand trial for murder.
Leonardo Daniel Alvarado Fernandez, 34, and Zue Urias, 27, were arrested in January 2020 after police responded to a report they had brought their dead infant, Marco, into an Indio hospital.
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 that 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.
The pair are scheduled to appear Tuesday morning at the Larson Justice Center in Indio for a preliminary hearing in which a prosecutor typically presents evidence and a judge determines whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant a trial.
Fernandez remains in custody without bail, while Urias is being held on $2 million bail.
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 sustained traumatic injuries, according to the Indio Police Department. The defendants were arrested on suspicion of murder later that day.
In a court declaration in support of increased bail, Indio police Detective Kelly Hawkins alleged that during questioning, Fernandez admitted physically abusing the baby prior to shaking him until he stopped breathing.
“(Urias) also stated she did nothing to attempt to stop the abuse,” Hawkins wrote.
The “victim had a cut to the right eye, black eye, bruises to the back, chest, face, legs and bottom of the feet,” she said.
The couple were 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, according to Hawkins.
Urias told detectives she saw her boyfriend shake the infant until he “went limp,” and didn’t check on the child until 30 minutes later, according to the declaration, which says authorities determined the child died due to blunt force trauma and physical abuse.
The couple’s three other children were previously placed in the custody of Riverside County Child Protective Services, according to police.
Neither defendant has any documented felony convictions in Riverside County.
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