Child cruelty charges dismissed Friday against woman shot and killed last month

Crime Watch

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Child cruelty charges have been dismissed against a Bakersfield woman who was fatally shot last month.

Prosecutors on Friday confirmed Sierra Castilleja, who had faced two felony counts of willful cruelty to a child, is the same woman who died in a shooting Jan. 10.

The charges were dismissed during a hearing where her co-defendant and former boyfriend, Gerson Avalos, 28, pleaded no contest to a single count of willful cruelty to a child. He’s scheduled to be sentenced March 23.

The two had originally faced charges including attempted murder and torture after their 11-month-old son suffered bleeding on the brain in an incident that happened in November 2019. Months later, a judge determined the evidence didn’t support those charges and dismissed them, leaving only the child cruelty counts.

Police reports said Avalos shook and threw the boy early Nov. 8, and the child’s head struck a couch and a tile floor. Doctors diagnosed the child as having a severe brain bleed, and found both fresh bruises and a number of bruises in the healing stage “suggesting ongoing abuse/torture,” investigators said in the reports.

Castilleja, 22, made bail after the attempted murder and torture charges were dropped.

On the evening of Jan. 10, Castilleja and Ramon Rodriguez Muro, 24, were shot in the area of Custer Avenue and South H Street. Both were taken to local hospitals, where they were pronounced dead the same night.

No arrests have been made in the killings.

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