Officials in California have filed murder charges against the parents of a 4-year-old California boy who died in July under suspicious circumstances.
Jose Maria Cuatro Jr., 27, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 25, both of Palmdale, were formally charged Monday with single counts of murder, torture, assault on a child causing death, and child abuse resulting in death — all stemming from the alleged abuse and intentional death of their son, Noah Cuatro.
PEOPLE obtained a copy of the criminal complaint against the parents, which alleges Noah died on July 6. Each defendant is being held on $3 million bail.
It was unclear Tuesday if either parent had entered pleas to the charges. Information about their attorneys was also unavailable.
According to the allegations in the criminal complaint, the investigation began on July 5, when first responders were summoned to a communal pool in Palmdale.
When they arrived, Cuatro and Juarez allegedly told them they discovered Noah motionless, floating in the pool. The parents allegedly insisted the boy had drowned.
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However, medical examiners determined through an autopsy Noah’s death was unrelated to drowning.
An exact manner of death has not been revealed, but Noah’s body did show signs of prolonged physical abuse, according to investigators.
The cause of the boy’s death was ruled a homicide.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Eva Hernandez, the grandmother of Noah’s mother, spoke to reporters last week through tears.
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“I feel relief. I feel sad,” she said. “Everything is so mixed up in my brain right now.”
Noah had been in the care of his great-grandmother before being returned to his parents last year.
According to the Times, Noah was placed in foster care in 2014 before being turned over to his great-grandmother.
In 2015, he was returned to his parents, who lost him again in 2016.
The court returned Noah to his parents in 2018. But in May, the Times reports the Department of Children and Family Services launched a probe into a tip suggesting Noah had been sexually abused.
If convicted of the charges they face, Cuatro and Juarez could be sentenced to between 32 years to life in prison.