A jury found a father and his girlfriend guilty today of torture and child abuse for starving his two children and physically abusing a third.
Austin Flores, 30, and Mariah Rita Sugg, 23, both of Hesperia, face 20 years to
life in state prison when they are sentenced January 8 for their roles in
starving Flores’ children, ages 4 and 5, when they were removed from their home
earlier this year.
am so grateful that the jury took care to find justice for these children,”
Deputy District Attorney David Foy said. “These kids were starved to the point
where witnesses described them as looking like concentration camp survivors and
a trial that began Nov. 17 before Judge Debra Harris, prosecutors presented
evidence that Flores and Sugg lived together and jointly took care of the
children from March 1 until June 6.
Mark Massi, a forensic pediatrician for Loma Linda University Medical Center,
testified that both children suffered great bodily injury as a result of
long-term starvation. Flores’ daughter, age 4, would have died soon had she not
been hospitalized, Massi testified, adding that her body mass index of 11.7 was
under the 1% percentile range for children her age and height.
children suffered from what Dr. Massi called psychosocial dwarfism – a
permanent loss of height as a result of starvation. He also said the girl’s
development was arrested as a result of starvation. At age 4, the girl could
barely talk and was not toilet trained.
also argued to the jury that there was evidence that Flores had sexually
penetrated the child in 2012 and 2014. Dr. Massi found the child had genital
injuries caused by blunt force penetration.
They were removed on June 6 after San Bernardino County social workers were
called by employees at the Marinello School of Beauty in Victorville, who saw
the emaciated children when both defendants brought them to the school on May
16, according to testimony.
employees said the kids appeared to be like “concentration camp” survivors and
“zombies—describing the children as extremely thin and listless.
older boy who was properly nourished because he ate breakfast and dinner at
school testified that Sugg would beat him and his siblings, make them do
exercises for hours at a time, and make them stand in the corner all day. The
defendants were convicted of felony child abuse for abusing him.
IN THE NEWS:
Father, girlfriend found guilty