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A mother from Arizona has been convicted of starving her 3-year-old son to death, then cramming his little body into a toy chest.
Raquel Barreras, 44, of Tucson, was found guilty of first-degree murder and felony child abuse on Friday.
During her trial, prosecutors detailed to the jury how Barreras not only starved her son Roman but how she isolated him from the world, KGUN-TV in Tucson reports. She allegedly didn’t let him play or talk with anyone.
His body was found by the family’s landlord after they moved out of the home. It had been left behind in a toy chest.
Barreras’ defense team claimed that she did in fact feed her son and pointed to possible cancer as an explanation for his weight loss. Her lawyer also suggested she was an easy target, calling her a mother in poverty struggling with drug addiction issues, according to ABC 15 Arizona.
Family members, including Barreras' other children, testified during the trial. Her daughter said she had asked her mother why Roman was inside the toy chest, to which Barreras replied, “He was very, very, very bad,” according to KVOA in Tucson. The boy’s brother testified he saw his dead sibling’s body inside the toy chest. Barreras' children were emotional during their testimony.
Two of the boys’ siblings said they would sometimes sneak some crackers to Roman because he was hungry.
Barreras is scheduled to be sentenced July 22.
Roman's dad Martin Barreras faces his own trial in August for first-degree murder for his alleged role in the boy’s death. The couple was arrested in March 2014. It's not clear when Roman died but it's believed that it was sometime between spring of 2013 and early 2014.
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