Deaf parents charged in crying baby's death

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by J. PANICKER and M. GOODMAN / WFAA

khou.com

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 11:09 AM

RICHARDSON, Texas — Richardson police say the deaf father of a five-month-old girl who was beaten to death early Sunday morning has confessed to his role in the crime.

Hector Cupich-Quiñones, 35, faces capital murder charges. His wife, Maria Zuniga, faces charges of injury to a child.

Police said both parents are deaf and mute.

According to investigators, the couple had been drinking into late Saturday night at their home in the 1100 block of Shadyglen Circle.

"There was a dispute over who was going to take care of the child," Richardson police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Perlich said. "The child was fussy, and they couldn't get the child to quiet."

When an officer arrived, he found Cupich-Quiñones clutching a child who was “pale, not breathing and had bruises on her arms,” according to a search warrant.

The officer called for paramedics and began performing CPR. The child was taken to the neonatal intensive care unit at Medical City Dallas. According to the warrant, the doctor found “massive trauma” on the back of her head and bruising on her back, chest and both arms. 

At the time, the affidavit says Cupich-Quiñones told detectives the child slept “in a small daybed with partial railing in the living room.”

When investigators interviewed Charles Niel, the homeowner, he put his hand to his mouth to motion that Cupich-Quiñones and Zuniga, 37, were drinking that night. There were beer cans and whiskey bottles in the backyard, he told police. 

Charging documents show that Quiñones shook the child and slammed her across the kitchen counter. He later admitted to it with the help of a court-certified interpreter.

Quiñones also allegedly admitted he was frustrated by the child's crying.

"It is my understanding that even though they're deaf, they can pick up vibrations and hear some sounds and stuff like that," Perlich said.

Police said the abuse happened very early Sunday morning at 12:30 a.m. Police and medical personnel were called to the home around 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, five hours later

"We're talking a lot of blunt force trauma injuries," Perlich said.

There were injuries and bruising to the head, back, chest, and arms. The child died Sunday night at Medical City Dallas Hospital.

After the girl died, investigators read Cupich-Quiñones his Miranda rights, which he waived. The affidavit said he told police that he and Zuniga were drinking and got in a fight because their daughter wouldn't stop crying. He said his wife wouldn’t take the child from him so he shook the baby while holding her by her torso.

The baby didn’t stop weeping, so he hit the back of the girl’s head on the kitchen counter at least three times, the document says. He also admitted to sliding the girl off the counter, causing her to fall off onto the tile floor below.

Shani Leon lives two doors down, and has a one-week-old daughter. She would occasionally see the family, but there was never any interaction.

"It is sad, especially hearing stuff like this, knowing it's down the street, and not even a house down," she said. "It's really sad."

When Zuniga was charged with injury to a child and read her Miranda rights, she requested a lawyer and did not make a statement to investigators. 

Both are in the Dallas County Jail. Cupich-Quiñones' bond is $1 million and he has an immigration hold. Zuniga's bond is $750,000.  

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