What to Know
- Deputies who responded to the family's home in July were told he had drowned in the apartment complex pool
- Injuries on Noah's body prompted an investigation into his death, which investigators called suspicious
- As the I-Team has documented, DCFS has been part of Noah's life since he was born
The parents of Noah Cuatro, a 4-year-old Palmdale boy whose parents said he drowned in their apartment pool, were charged with murder Monday, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office announced.
Jose Maria Cuatro Jr., 27, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 25, were arrested Sept. 26, multiple sources told NBCLA.
Both face one count of murder and torture, the DA's office said in a news release.
Cuatro will also face a charge of an assault on a child resulting in death while the boy's mother will face one count of child abuse resulting in death.
Bail was set at $3 million each. They both face a maximum sentence of 32 years to life in prison if convicted as charged.
As they appeared in court Monday, family members sobbed, and said neither parent would have harmed their son.
Prosecutors said Monday in court that Noah had fresh blood in his rear end, a fractured vertebrae, lacerations on his liver, fractured ribs, and bruises all over his body. Prosecutors also allege that these injuries were inflicted in front of Noah's siblings.
"My daughter was a good mother to her kids,and she never hurt her kids and she never raised her voice or her hands to her kids," Ursula's mother, Sylvia Juarez, said outside court, sobbing as she spoke. "I don't care what anybody says -- that's my daughter. She's innocent."
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Other family members in court said they took care of Noah at various times during his young and short life, when he was taken from his parents' custody by the Department of Children and Family Services. They also claimed that Noah would refuse to go back home.
The arrests and charges come two months after Noah's parents told the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department that the boy drowned in their pool July 5.
Noah was airlifted to Palmdale Regional Medical Center and then to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, where he died on July 6.
Based on injuries found on Noah's body, deputies deemed the death suspicious and opened an investigation.
"The criminal arrest of Noah Cuatro’s biological parents is an important step forward in this ongoing case. Since the moment I learned of Noah’s tragic death, I committed to hold all negligent parties accountable. I’ve ensured full transparency during this investigation. We’ve highlighted areas to improve and have already implemented meaningful reforms. I’m grateful to the Sheriff’s Department detectives who worked around the clock investigating Noah’s death. I’ll continue to be engaged on this case with the Sheriff and the District Attorney," Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.
His parents were questioned at the time, but not arrested until Sept. 26.
A removal order that could have taken the boy out of the home was issued in May, but never executed. The order was submitted to a court and approved by a judge.
The boy died about two months after the order was issued.
As the I-Team has documented, DCFS has been part of Noah's life since he was born.
Earlier this month, the NBC4 I-Team reported that a new report from the Office of Child Protection outlined a social worker's concerns. The worker who asked the judge for the removal order told a judge that Noah's parents were not "compliant" or "truthful."
A relative of Noah's mother said the boy's parents loved him and the children very much, insisting that the family's home life is not being represented accurately.
NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd and Lolita Lopez contributed to this report.