A 9-year-old boy died after what a prosecutor alleged was “essentially torture” by his stepmother, who’s accused of locking him in a closet at night, withholding food and inflicting “physical strenuous punishments” while she worked from home due to COVID.
Now, the stepmother is charged with murder — and the boy’s father, who allegedly “admitted … he did nothing to save his son,” according to prosecutor Tamara Kelly, is charged with injury to a child, infliction of great bodily injury, and destruction or concealment of evidence, reports the Meridian Press in Idaho.
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The boy, Emrik Osuna, could not be revived by officers who responded to a 911 call at 9:39 p.m. on Sept. 1 and found the child not breathing and without a heartbeat, said Meridian police in a news release. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.
More than four hours earlier, his father, Erik Osuna, allegedly sent a text to his wife, Monique Osuna, expressing hesitation about taking the boy to seek help, said the prosecutor.
“I know you are scared,” the message read. “I am too.”
Examination of the boy’s body revealed him to be badly dehydrated and malnourished, Kelly said in court Thursday, reports KTVB.
“The little boy had bruises all over his body, specifically on his buttocks, groin, legs and torso,” Kelly told the judge. “Some of the bruises were extremely large and essentially covered the back of his body.”
The boy was forced to do jumping jacks and wall sits for lengthy periods, and allowed to stop only for a moment while his stepmother took a break from her work, Kelly alleged.
Erik and Monique Ozuna
Ada County Sheriff’s Office
In addition, the father allegedly told police that Emrik had only been given rice and water for weeks before he died, according to the prosecutor.
Kelly alleged that because the child was not attending school, he was unable to escape his stepmother’s abuse.
Relatives said the boy had lived for a time with other family members after his biological mother had been convicted and sentenced to prison for abuse of his siblings.
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“He was just like one of our own,” said the boy’s aunt, Marie Osuna, who took him in, reports KTVB. “He loved us. He would call me mom,” she said. “He was just a good kid, he was happy. I just don’t understand what happened.”
After Erik Osuna later was awarded custody of his son and the boy moved from California to live with his father and stepmother in Idaho, “we trusted both of them to take care of him. And it’s not like our family wasn’t more than willing to help,” Marie Osuna said. “They could have reached out to us, they could have said something, you know, if they were frustrated with him.”
“Why would they starve him like that?,” she asked. “What did he do to deserve to be starved or even to be hit, like a dog? He just needed love. He just needed love, that’s it, and to feel safe.”
Monique and Erik Osuna are being held in the Ada County jail on a $2 million bond each, and due to be formally charged on Sept. 17. It could not be immediately determined if they’d retained an attorney or entered pleas to the charges against them.
Three other children in the couple’s home — a 4- and 9-year-old, and a four-month-old — were taken from the home and placed in protective custody, police said.
Emrik’s uncle, Francisco Tirado, created a GoFundMe page seeking donations with the goal to bring the boy’s body from Idaho to California for burial.