Mother, Boyfriend Arrested in 14-Month-Old Boy's Death

After a 14-month-old boy died at an Inglewood hospital, his mother and her boyfriend were arrested in connection with the death, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department announced Monday.

The toddler was brought via ambulance to Centinela Hospital Sunday night. He was not breathing when he arrived at the Inglewood hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The boy lived in a Hawthorne apartment with two older siblings, their mother Sandra Cartagena and her boyfriend Julio Mejia, a neighbor told NBC4.

After the child’s death, both adults were arrested.

Cartagena, 44, was arrested on suspicion of child endangerment, sheriff’s officials said. Her boyfriend – 44-year-old Mejia – was arrested on suspicion of murder.

They're scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

Cartagena’s 9- and 14-year-old sons have been taken into protective custody by the Department of Children and Family Services, according to LASD.


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A neighbor told NBC4 the toddler had been sick last week. His mother took him to the doctor, who said he had a double-ear infection, the neighbor said.

Officials by Monday evening had not yet released an official cause of death. Police have not been previously called to the couple's home for any domestic violence reports, records show.

The charges against Cartagena and Meija are similar to those faced by another Southern California couple, accused in the May 24 death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.

In that case, Gabriel's mother and her boyfriend face capital murder charges after the boy's broken body was found at the Palmdale apartment he shared with the couple and his siblings.

Gabriel Fernandez's case garnered national headlines and sparked days of protest against the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services, which critics say did not do enough to protect the 8-year-old despite dozens of complaints by family members, teachers and neighbors.

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