Local News

Monday, Jul 23 2012 07:06 PM

One defendant sentenced, another declared dead in child beating case

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    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Noemi Mendoza, right, speaks to her attorney Peter Kang after she was sentenced Monday morning. Mendoza pleaded no contest to willful cruelty to a child in connection with the death of her 2-year-old son. She is pregnant.

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  2. 2 of 2

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Noemi Mendoza in court after she was sentence Monday morning. Mendoza pleaded no contest to willful cruelty to a child in connection with the death of her 2-year-old son. She is pregnant.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

Delano police revealed for the first time Monday -- following the sentencing of another person related to the case -- that a murder suspect charged in connection with the brutal, fatal beating of a 2-year-old boy died his own horrific death in Mexico.

Cesar Osuna had fled to Mexico following the boy's death and was doing construction work on a two-story building when he touched a live wire, Delano police Cmdr. Lynn Venables said. Osuna fell and became impaled on a fence, he said.

Venables said Delano police traveled to Mexico and met with federal police, who showed them the body. Pictures of Osuna's numerous tattoos matched the tattoos found on the body.

"Apparently he is dead," Venables said.

No other details regarding the incident were immediately available, including when it happened.

The information was released following the sentencing of 23-year-old Noemi Mendoza Monday morning. She received a stipulated six-year sentence after pleading no contest to willful cruelty to a child last month.

Osuna was Mendoza's live-in boyfriend, and the child killed was her son, Juan Felix.

"This is a really tragic case," said Kern County Superior Court Judge Charles R. Brehmer as he addressed a visibly pregnant Mendoza in Kern County Superior Court.

Brehmer noted that in addition to the twins she's expecting, Mendoza has two other children.

Prosecutor Arthur Norris said Mendoza's punishment is for leaving Juan in the custody of someone who was dangerous. There were indications the boy had been abused on other occasions, he said.

Peter Kang, Mendoza's attorney, described her as a loving mother who took great pride in her children. He said Osuna was abusive and manipulative, and by the time Mendoza figured out what was going on it was too late.

"She feels very sad about the loss of her child, and I think she's willing to admit responsibility for her duty as a mom in failing to protect her child," Kang said.

He wasn't sure who the twins' father is.

Kang, who didn't know until Monday that Osuna was dead, said that knowledge wouldn't have impacted Mendoza's plea deal since their cases were separate.

Mendoza will soon be off to prison, where she will be given prenatal care and have outside visits with an obstetrician/gynecologist, said California Correctional Health Care Services spokeswoman Nancy Kincaid.

Every prison has an urgent care facility but no hospitals, so she will give birth in a hospital in the community where her prison is located. Until then she'll be kept out of the general prison population.

"There are three women's prisons in the state and they're all prepared to handle pregnant inmates, but it's a pretty small population," Kincaid said.

The timing of her return to prison following the birth depends on the circumstances of the birth, her general health and whether there are any complications, Kincaid said. She would probably go into the general population at that point, but a variety of factors would have to be considered first.

Mendoza's son died Jan. 12, 2011 after Osuna took the boy to Delano Regional Medical Center. His injuries were numerous.

An autopsy found the child suffered "sustained multiple rib fractures, tearing of abdominal membranes, a skull fracture and the ultimate cause of death was (loss of blood) due to blunt force trauma," according to Delano police reports filed in court.

Police said the family has a long history with Child Protective Services. Kang said he believes Mendoza's other children -- two young boys -- are in the custody of family members.

Kang said Mendoza's sentence reflects what her case is all about. It's not about murder, he said -- it's about a parent's responsibility to protect his or her children.

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