Texas man sentenced to 99 years in starvation case-- July 27, 2010
DALLAS — A Dallas man convicted of starving three children locked in a hotel bathroom for nearly a year was sentenced to 99 years in prison Tuesday after jurors heard testimony that one child was suicidal and another preferred urinating in his hospital bed to entering a restroom.
The youngest victim, a 6-year-old boy whose head barely peeked over the witness stand, told jurors he liked the hospital where he was taken after being rescued from the squalid hotel along a busy Dallas highway in July 2009.
"I got to eat," he said.
The jury sentenced Alfred Santiago, 38, hours after they convicted him of injury to a child and continuous sexual abuse. Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence. Santiago's attorney had asked for 25 years, the minimum allowed under the sex abuse conviction.
Santiago also was fined $20,000.
After the sentencing, Santiago told the judge he would appeal.
"God knows I am not guilty of these charges," he said.
The children were emaciated when they were found last summer. Their ribs and spines showed through flaky skin, and the oldest child, an 11-year-old girl, told authorities she had been repeatedly sexually assaulted.
Several witnesses compared their appearance to Holocaust survivors. The youngest boy, then 5, weighed less than 30 pounds — about the weight of a healthy 2-year-old. Pictures of the wasted children were pinned to the courtroom wall above the witness stand throughout the trial.
During the sentencing hearing, the boy described Santiago beating him with broomsticks and belts. Nervous on the stand, the child frequently pulled the neck of his navy T-shirt over his mouth.
Jurors also heard from the children's therapist, who said the oldest boy has been hospitalized three times for being suicidal. His testimony earlier in the trial was so stressful he vomited afterward.
"He worried that he would have to go to hell because he could not forgive Alfredo," Dr. Ashley Lind said.
Another doctor, Matthew Cox, said two of the children were terrified of the bathroom. One, who had suffered brain atrophy related to chronic starvation, preferred urinating in his hospital bed to going into the bathroom. The same child gained 22 pounds in less than two months in the hospital thanks to a healthy diet.
Testifying in his own defense a day earlier, Santiago repeatedly denied sexually assaulting the girl, beating her brothers or denying the children food. He said he made them breakfast and lunch every day and it wasn't his fault the children refused to eat.
Santiago also said he could not explain why he told investigators he awoke from naps to find himself having sex with the girl. He could not recall telling police that, he said.
Prosecutor Eren Price told jurors in her closing argument that the case was about isolation, hopelessness, suffering, torture and starvation.
"Mostly the evidence in this case has been about evil," Price said, standing over Santiago. "These kids thought they were going to die in that bathroom."
Another prosecutor, Carmen White, told the jury the siblings would pray for God to rescue them.
"He starved those children," White said of Santiago. "We don't let people treat animals that way."
Santiago's defense attorney, Richard Carrizales, acknowledged in his closing argument that jurors "couldn't just ignore the photos" of the starving children. Carrizales blamed the children's mother, Abneris Santiago, for denying the children food and suggested the youngsters' testimony about beatings and rapes was unreliable.
Each of the three children have different fathers. Alfred and Abneris Santiago, who share a last name but were not married, have a daughter who was 1 when they were arrested. She was healthy and unharmed.
Abneris Santiago's trial is scheduled to begin Wednesday.
The four children live together with a foster family.
Mom's trial starts in Texas starved children case-- July 28, 2010
DALLAS – The defense for the mother of three children found starving in a hotel bathroom portrayed her Wednesday as another victim of her abusive boyfriend, but prosecutors said while she gave birth, "she's no mom."
Abneris Santiago, 31, was charged with injury to a child after police discovered the children starved and shut in a Dallas extended-stay hotel room's bathroom last summer. The children's skeletons were visible beneath their stretched and flaky skin, and authorities said they could have been confined for as long as nine months.
"She may be a mother, but she's no mom," prosecutor Eren Price said of Santiago during opening statements.
The trial began in the same courtroom where Santiago's boyfriend, Alfred Santiago, was convicted Tuesday and sentenced to 99 years in prison. A different jury found him guilty of injury to a child and continuous sexual abuse.
The couple have the same surname but never married. They have a daughter who was 1 when the arrests happened. She was found healthy and unharmed.
With the same prosecutors and judge, Abneris Santiago's trial included much of the same testimony as her boyfriend's. Her brother testified he drove more than 1,200 miles from Ohio to Texas because he was concerned she was in an abusive relationship.
Abner Santiago said his sister always told him her children were doing well in school, and he did not suspect they were in danger. In fact, they were near death.
When he arrived at her hotel room with police officers as backup, Abner Santiago said he was stunned by his niece and nephews' condition.
"They were skin and bones," he said. "Their eye sockets were sunk in. You could make out the bone outlines in their faces. (The 11-year-old girl) had to hold up her pants."
Abner Santiago, his voice quavering, said the girl emerged from the hotel and told him: "It's OK now. We're safe."
He was unable to reply.
"I couldn't say anything to her," he said. "I was at a loss for words."
Later, he bought fast food for the three children — who were then 5, 10 and 11. The youngest boy, who weighed less than 30 pounds, couldn't hold down the food and vomited.
As prosecutor Carmen White pinned photos of the children to a courtroom wall, Abneris Santiago sat next to her defense attorney, rocking and shaking. Her waist-length black hair was streaked with gray and her neck had a tattoo of her ex-boyfriend's name.
Later in the day, Santiago asked the judge to excuse her from the courtroom. She had started crying during a two-hour video prosecutors played of her daughter being interviewed by authorities on the day she was rescued, The Dallas Morning News reported on its website. In the video, the girl described being sexually abused by her mother's boyfriend.
The judge refused, even after Santiago said she might vomit. The judge said she could have a trash can placed next to her chair.
Her lawyer, James Jamison, said in his opening remarks that Alfred Santiago was to blame for the children's condition. While Abneris Santiago worked up to 50 hours a week at a barbecue restaurant, Alfred Santiago stayed home with the children, who were not enrolled in school.
"She was not the primary caretaker," Jamison said. "You're going to hear about a very abusive relationship."
In the trial that ended Tuesday, jurors heard from the children's therapist, who said since being rescued the oldest boy has been hospitalized three times for being suicidal.
Another doctor said two of the children were afraid to use the bathroom at the hospital where they were taken. One of the boys, who suffered brain atrophy related to chronic starvation, preferred urinating in his hospital bed. The same child gained 22 pounds in less than two months in the hospital thanks to a healthy diet.
Source: Yahoo News
This bitch needs to feel what starving feels like her own damn evil self...