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Salinas parents in court for death of child

Two Salinas parents accused of child abuse resulting in the death of their baby last year were seen in court Friday afternoon in Salinas.

Prosecutors with the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office called a Salinas Police Department detective to the witness stand during the preliminary hearing.

Detective Ciro Barboza said on Aug. 7 last year, he was called to Natividad Medical Center where he witnessed bruising to a seven-month-old baby’s back from the neck to the knees.

That child belonged to the defendants in court: Hector Aguero Jr. and Michelle La Fuente. Both are facing serious charges that if convicted could result in 25 years to life in prison.

“Child abuse causing death for a child under the age of 8 as well as a lesser charge of just felony child abuse,” said Christopher Pusk, a Monterey County deputy district attorney who is prosecuting the case.

Prosecutors methodically asked Barboza everything from how the defendants behaved during questioning to the texture of the floor in their residence.

Barboza said Aguero first told him he did not know how the baby got the bruises, but later admitted to the detective to hitting the baby several times because it would not stop crying.

Aguero listened on through a Spanish translator and appeared to get emotional at times. His defense attorney told reporters afterward that Aguero is a human being and wants a fair process during the trial.

“I’d say most cases involving a homicide where someone has died and if it’s a felony case, it’s pretty standard for this case to take anywhere from one to multiple years,” said Pusk.

Barboza also said La Fuente knew Aguero was impatient with the baby. She apparently already noticed bruising at least twice before and threatened to leave Aguero if it happened a third time.

But the detective also claims La Fuente pledged to remain loyal to Aguero and that she said she thinks the baby would have forgiven him for the death because
he had a good heart.

The preliminary hearing will resume on May 30 at 8:30 a.m.

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