GREENVILLE, Texas — As family and friends prepared to bury two-year-old Brandon Herrera, court documents detailed his brutal death — and what the suspects told police about the boy's final hours.
On Wednesday afternoon, Brandon's two caregivers — Arturo Aguilar Vega Jr., 23, and his 22-year-old girlfriend Gabriela Ortiz — were arraigned on capital murder charges in the child's death.
Because the case has caused so much sadness and outrage, both suspects were forced to wear bulletproof vests. Extra security was also provided for their protection.
"We always try to be careful in anything like this when emotions run so high" said Hunt County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Joe Knight.
Court documents obtained by News 8 reveal that Herrera — who died Sunday — was covered from head-to-toe with cuts and bruises. There was a black-colored wound on the child's chest with a square-shaped pattern.
Doctors also found bruising on Brandon's lower abdomen area under his diaper. There were multiple wounds on the front and back of his legs, on his bottom, and on his back.
Brandon had a prosthetic right leg, and documents show that it was missing at the time he was found Sunday morning.
The records also show that Vega admitted to police that he beat Brandon with a belt at least 10 times Saturday night between 9 and 11 p.m. after the suspect told police that he "lost it."
Vega then told investigators he began hitting Brandon "a few times, and the boy stopped crying and just laid there."
Detectives believe the boy was a victim of "long term abuse". We don't know for how long, but sources tell News 8 that Brandon's wounds were inflicted at different times.
Police searched the suspects' rural home in Campbell. According to court documents, investigators recovered 25 items, including a bloodstained T-shirt, a black leather belt, two wooden sticks and Brandon's prosthetic leg.
Records indicated that at 2 a.m. Sunday, Vega said he checked on the child and determined that he was alive.
But some time between 5 and 6 a.m., Vega found that Brandon wasn't breathing and put him in the car. Ortiz, Vega's girlfriend, called 911 for help.
In court documents, Ortiz stated that some of the bruising on the child could have resulted when she grabbed his face and shook him in a side-to-side motion in an attempt to revive him.
Vega and Ortiz drove Brandon to meet an ambulance on the overpass at FM 513 and Interstate 30, but the child was pronounced dead.
Investigators searched the suspects' vehicle Wednesday for any evidence that could help them in the case.
The documents also indicate that Brandon's mother had trouble caring for her son and passed him on to her cousin to care for him for nearly a month.
News 8 has learned that Brandon had been living with the suspects for six weeks. The specific cause of the child's death has not been released, but investigators have attributed it to massive blunt force trauma.
There is now a Facebook page in memory of Brandon Herrera.