Arizona mom starved son, 3, to death, hid his body in a toy chest in rental home and then moved out
A mother from Arizona has been found guilty of first-degree murder after she starved her three-year-old son to death and hid his body inside a toy chest.
Raquel Barreras, a 44-year-old from Tuscon was found guilty on both charged of murder and child abuse by a jury in Pima County Arizona on Friday and will be formally sentenced to jail on July 22.
The remains of her young son, Roman Barreras was discovered inside her house by the landlords after she was evicted in March 2014. They had gone to clean by the property when they found Roman's remains. Landlord Marl Weisbord and his family came across the bones dumped in a trunk and at first thought, they were Halloween decorations.
It is believed that Roman was being kept in a playpen in the house and had passed away sometime between the spring of 2013 and January 2014 due to malnutrition. The mother pleaded guilty to the crime but later her defense fought back claiming she was an easy target because she was a drug-addicted mother who lived in poverty.
The woman's defense also claimed that Roman might have had cancer before he passed away and that might have been the reason for his weight loss, reports KGUN. However, the prosecution stated that Raquel starved young Roman on purpose and allowed no one to play, talk or feed the kid and said: “It was none of their business.”
The jury also heard how she had even created a 'torture chamber' of sorts where he was kept.
Barreras has four other children and according to Mirror, neither of them were allowed to have contact with the kid. During her trial, a number of Roman's siblings testified against her revealing they would sneak into the laundry room to feed young Roman crackers. Roman’s sister told the court said she asked her mom why he was left inside that toy chest and the mom replied. “He was very very very bad.” Roman's brother while testifying said that he was shocked and emotional when he looked inside the plastic toy box in the backyard before they moved away and saw his little brother dead inside.
Arizona Department of Child Safety removed Roman and three of his siblings from their parents after he was born in July 2010 because they were exposed to drugs. But a year later, Roman was back with his father, Martin Barreras.
Apart from Barreras, her husband has also been charged with first-degree murder and his trial is scheduled in August. On Friday, the prosecutors implored the jury to deliver a guilty verdict against her. 'It took Roman a long time to die. We cannot make these things better for Roman. What we can do is bring justice... the justice that Roman deserves'.