HOUSTON—A 20-year-old mother and her boyfriend were charged after the woman’s defenseless 5-month-old daughter died from severe physical abuse, according to Houston police.
The mother, Judy Marie Cedillo, was charged with felony injury to a child. Her boyfriend, 27-year-old Leonardo Pereira, was charged with felony injury to a child with serious bodily injury.
Paramedics rushed the baby girl to Texas Children’s Hospital on November 18, but the injuries were too severe and the baby could not be saved.
Autopsy records show that the baby suffered numerous rib fractures, a broken left arm, numerous bruises in varying stages of healing, a healing facial laceration and an acute subdural hemorrhage. The medical examiner stated that, in his opinion, the baby suffered intentional physical abuse.
Investigators then turned to her mother to find out what happened.
Cedillo said she met Pereira seven months before and that the two were dating. She said he was in charge of babysitting her two little girls while she worked during the day.
Cedillo said on the day the tragedy happened, she gave her 3-year-old daughter a bowl of cereal and the baby a bottle about 9 a.m. She said her infant drank the bottle and all appeared to be fine as she went into her room to get dressed for work.
She said she heard Pereira come into the house and heard rumbling in the kitchen. He then came into her bathroom carrying her 5-month-old and said “There’s something wrong with your baby,” according to court documents.
Cedillo said her baby girl was unconscious and unresponsive. Her eyes were also rolled back and her arms were floppy. Pereira tried splashing water on the baby’s face to wake her, but that did not work. The mother then laid her little girl on the ground and called 911.
Cedillo told investigators that during their relationship, she had seen Pereira handle her baby “roughly.” She said she saw him throw her up in the air twice, five to six times each. The first time her baby was 2 or 3 months old, and the second time was when she was 5 months old.
During his interview, Pereira denied hurting the baby. He said that he had been out the night before partying and when he returned home that morning, he heard noises coming from the girls’ room. He said that when he went inside the check on them, he found the 3-year-old lying on top of her sister and when he pulled her off, the baby was unresponsive.
He admitted to investigators, however, that he had “rough-handled” the baby on other occasions. Pereira said he threw the infant into the air and caught her by the mid-section a few times, and thought maybe that hurt the child.
But the girls’ maternal grandmother said she believed he was intentionally harming them.
The grandmother told investigators that the 3-year-old was visiting with her for a week at the beginning of November and started crying when it was time for her to go home. The grandmother said the child told her “Leo hits me and touches me down there” while pointing to her genital area, documents state. The grandmother said she did not want to return the child, but her daughter forced her to.
Cedillo and Pereira were each given a $100,000 bond.