LANCASTER — The parents of a four-year-old Palmdale boy who died in July 2019 are due to appear in an Antelope Valley courtroom Tuesday morning for a preliminary hearing into their son’s death.
A grand jury indicted Ursula Elaine Juarez, now 27, and Jose Maria Cuatro Jr., now 30, with one count of murder and torture in January 2020.
Additionally, Cuatro faces one count of child molestation causing death and sexual penetration with a child under 10. Juarez also faces one count of child abuse in circumstances likely to cause death.
The couple pleaded not guilty. Both have been held since their arrests in September 2019. Bail is set at $4 million for Cuatro and $3 million for Juarez, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Detainee Information Center.
If convicted, Cuatro faces a maximum sentence of 47 years to life in prison and Juarez could face up to 32 years to life in prison.
Authorities were called around 4 p.m. on July 5, 2019, to the family’s home in the 1200 block of East Avenue S, and the boy’s parents said the boy had nearly drowned in the family pool, said the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department at the time.
According to the indictment, Jose Cuatro allegedly sexually assaulted his son on the same date. The couple are accused of torturing their son for a period of four months from April 2019, according to the indictment.
Noah Cuatro was taken to Palmdale Regional Medical Center and then transferred to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where he was pronounced dead on the morning of July 6, 2019. The cause of death was not disclosed.
Noah Cuatro’s parents were questioned but not arrested at the time and his three siblings were taken into custody. He was reportedly under the supervision of the Department of Children and Family Services at the time of his death.
Noah Cuatro’s great-grandmother, Eva Hernandez, filed a multimillion-dollar damages claim against Los Angeles County in August 2019, saying he died despite “countless reports of ‘abuses’ that had been done to the department.
“There were at least a dozen calls to the Child Abuse Hotline and the police from people who said they suspected Cuatro and his siblings of being abused,” according to the complaint filed in name Hernandez.