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Day-Care Provider Ordered to Trial On Child-Torture Charges

Georgina Ruiz

A Santa Maria day-care provider will be tried on felony child-torture charges, a Santa Barbara County Superior Court judge ruled Monday.

The hearing to determine whether enough evidence exists for a trial for Georgina Ruiz, 51, started Friday afternoon before Judge Patricia Kelly and resumed Monday.

The preliminary hearing wrapped up at mid-afternoon, Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens said.

Ruiz was arrested in February on suspicion of child-torture and endangerment charges in a case involving multiple victims, authorities said. 

She operated a licensed day-care facility in her home on Bungalow Drive. 

Several Santa Maria police detectives testified during the preliminary hearing about the case involving alleged incidents in 1998 and 1999 with two victims, and another more recent case involving a different child.

Santa Maria Police Department Detective Cassandra Coria said one of the earlier victims remained mum about her injuries because Ruiz told the girl to lie about how her leg became broken. 

“It was during the time she was in fear she felt she would be killed,” Coria said. 

Detectives testified about bruises and scrapes on the young girls. A boy told police Ruiz hit him and made him take a cold shower.

“He just told me it was really cold," Cpl. Michael Huffman said.

The boy also described being hit by Ruiz and pointed to areas he was struck, Huffman said.

Defense attorney Tom Allen spent time Friday questioning whether police, after taking Ruiz into custody,  properly administered her Miranda warning regarding a person's rights to remain silent.

Allen also tried to poke holes in police testimony that Ruiz, a 30-year resident in the United States, sought to be freed from jail because planned to flee to Mexico.

The defense attorney said the woman with diabetes simply wanted out of jail due to health concerns in addition to fearing for her safety.

“Did you feel her pleading was disingenuous, that her life was in fear?” Allen asked Detective Jose DeLejia Jr., who listened to several recordings of Ruiz’s conversations in Spanish with her husband and other relatives during phone calls.

“I don’t know her so I don’t know if it was genuine or not,” DeLejia said.

Her bail initially was set at $500,000, but was revoked two days after her Feb. 10 arrest because police officers expressed concern she intended to flee the country.

A judge later set bail at $1.6 million. She remains in custody.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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