Monday, August 20 , 2018, 4:38 am | Fair 64º


Local News


Mother, 2 Others Charged in Former Goleta Boy’s Death

The mother and uncle of a 9-year-old boy who died after allegedly being beaten by the mother's boyfriend for taking a piece of birthday cake were being held on $5 million bail each after their arrests Monday by Hagerstown, Maryland police, according to a police department news release and Washington County District Court records.

The arrests came as police learned that Oriana Iris Garcia, 26, and Jacob Andrew Barajas, 23, were planning to fly to the West Coast, police said.

The charges stem from the July 5 death of Jack Kirby Garcia, who police say was fatally beaten by Garcia's boyfriend, Robert Leroy Wilson, on June 30.

(Jack Garcia attended Ellwood School in Goleta until February, and his family later moved to Maryland.)

The charging documents for Barajas and Garcia state that Jack Garcia's injuries were "consistent with torture" and included extensive blunt force trauma injuries to the head and brain, and bruising to the body consistent with blunt or compressive force.

Bond for Garcia and Barajas was set by a Washington County District Court Commissioner, according to court records and an officer at the Washington County Detention Center. Both are scheduled for preliminary hearings Aug. 12, court records said.

Garcia and Barajas, who each face charges of second-degree murder and first-degree physical abuse of a child resulting in death, were scheduled for bond review hearings Tuesday in district court.

Wilson was charged before Jack Garcia's death with first-degree physical abuse of a child resulting in severe physical injury and other offenses. His bond was set at $1 million. 

Robert Leroy Wilson

Those charges are expected to be upgraded as a result of the boy's death, according to Hagerstown Police Capt. Paul Kifer.

Additional charges could be filed against Oriana Garcia and Barajas, Kifer said.

First-degree physical child abuse resulting in death carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, Assistant State's Attorney Sarah Mollett-Gaumer said. The maximum penalty for second-degree murder is 30 years.

The news release said the allegations against Oriana Garcia are that she sent away an ambulance called by Barajas to take care of Jack Garcia, allowing the boy to go without medical care for four hours. The allegations against Barajas include handcuffing Jack Garcia to a chair before Wilson beat the boy, the release said. 

Oriana Garcia and Barajas are believed to have participated in earlier incidents of abuse against the boy, the release said.

Oriana Iris Garcia

An ambulance was called to 506 Lynnehaven Drive Apt. E at 5:05 p.m. on June 30 for a boy having difficulty breathing, according to Wilson's charging document.

A Community Rescue Service ambulance arrived and paramedics were removing equipment when a female, later identified as Oriana Garcia, approached and said they weren't needed, the document said. 

Oriana Garcia told police she was at work on June 30 when she received a call that her son was having trouble breathing, Wilson's charging document said. She told police she rushed back to the apartment and "found that he was just congested," the document said. 

Garcia told the ambulance crew that "her son was just fine and they were no longer needed" and declined to allow them to check on her son, the charging document said. 

Police learned Wilson had called Oriana Garcia twice on June 30 at approximately 4 and 4:30 p.m., the charging document said. Wilson was crying and told her Jack did not look good, the document said.

Wilson called her again at 4:45 p.m. and told her he needed to pick her up, the charging document said. By the time they arrived home, Barajas had called 911 for the ambulance that Oriana Garcia later sent away, the document said.

It was not until 8:33 p.m. — more than four hours after Wilson's first call to Oriana Garcia — that Wilson called 911. Oriana Garcia told police that was after she heard Jack Garcia "making a gurgling sound when breathing," the document said.

Jacob Andrew Barajas

Barajas told police that "at some point during the day, Robert got upset with Jack after learning that he had eaten cake that did not belong to him," the charging document said. Barajas went into the boy's bedroom and put handcuffs on him "because that was what was expected of him when Jack would steal," the charging document said. 

The charging documents for Oriana Garcia and Barajas stated that Barajas told police Jack Garcia had taken cake belonging to a person named Anita, who was otherwise not identified. When Wilson found out the cake was missing, he determined it was taken by Jack, the document said.

Barajas told police he handcuffed Jack behind his back and then used a bicycle lock to secure him to a chair with the boy sitting on the floor, the document said.

Barajas left the bedroom, Wilson went inside and Barajas could hear thuds and loud yelling, the charging document said. Barajas went back to the room and found Jack Garcia lying on the floor and Wilson asking him about the cake, the document said. 

Jack got up and was tripped or shoved back to the floor, the charging document said. Feeling the discipline was too severe, Barajas told police he took off the handcuffs, the document said.

Wilson then struck the boy in the stomach with what the charging document described as "palm strikes" as Jack Garcia asked him to stop.

After being hit several times, the boy became unresponsive, the charging document said. Wilson went back into the room to question Jack Garcia further and discovered that he was both "unresponsive and stiff," the document said.

Barajas told police he made the 5:05 p.m. 911 call shortly before Wilson brought Oriana Garcia home, the document said. 

When Community Rescue Service returned to the apartment after the 8:33 p.m. call, they found Jack Garcia was not breathing, the police news release said. He was taken first to Meritus Medial Center because severe weather had grounded medevac helicopters and was later transported to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where he died.

When doctors examined the boy, they found bruises on the left side of his face and an abrasion and bruising on the left side of his neck, the charging document said. They also found injuries along his spinal column, back, left side, left buttock, lower left leg and abdomen, it said.

"Some of these contusions were in varying stages of healing," the document said.

On July 1, when police went to Meritus Medical Center where Jack Garcia was first taken, they learned Wilson and Barajas had looked after Jack while his mother was at work, the charging document said. Oriana Garcia, Barajas and Wilson were all interviewed, the document said.

Oriana Garcia said she "initially minimized or denied physical discipline" took place in the house, the charging document said. Later, she told police Wilson "sparred" with her son and had slapped him two or three times in the past, it said.

Oriana Garcia then told police Wilson would strike the boy on the leg with a "wooden sword thing" made of bamboo when he lied, the charging document said. Investigators asked her about handcuffs, which she said were broken, but were used in the past to discipline him and teach him not to steal, it said.

"She confirmed that Jack would mostly get into trouble for stealing food," the charging document said.

A detective interviewed the apartment manager, who said she never saw the boy, but that Oriana Garcia had talked about him, saying she was unable to get him into school, the charging document said. The names of Oriana and Jack Garcia and Barajas were added to the apartment lease March 3, the document said.

Washington County Public Schools told police the boy was never enrolled, nor was there ever a request to have his school records transferred here, the charging document said.

Police also spoke with Oriana Garcia's supervisor at work, who said that on the morning of the incident Wilson appeared angry and was driving erratically when he took her to work, the charging document said. The supervisor also related speaking to Oriana Garcia about a week earlier, it said.

Oriana Garcia told the supervisor about Jack stealing food and talked about a "scared straight" tactic to solve the issue, the document said. During the conversation, she mentioned "taking Jack to jail to see what it would be like if he didn't stop stealing," it said.

Police learned Garcia and Barajas were preparing to leave the area for the West Coast, although Kifer was not sure what state. The two had apparently come here from California, but Jack Garcia also had family in Washington State, he said.

When police got to the apartment Monday, they learned from a relative that Garcia and Barajas were not there, but were still in the area, Kifer said. They were contacted and taken into custody without incident, he said.

Kifer said it could have been a difficult and expensive process to track down the two and extradite them had Garcia and Barajas left the state.

"At that point, we just needed to act soon," Kifer said.

— Don Aines is a staff writer for the Hagerstown, Maryland-based Herald-Mail Media. 

[Click here to read more from the Herald-Mail Media.]

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