Couple charged with torture and attempted murder after 11-month-old seriously injured

Crime Watch

Sierra Castilleja and Gerson Avalos

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Gerson Avalos and Sierra Castilleja left their 11-month-old son at home when they visited family the night of Nov. 7.

Investigators say in a court document they didn’t want relatives to see the bruises covering the boy’s body.

Early the next morning, the child would suffer even worse injuries, according to a probable cause declaration filed in Superior Court.

Avalos, 27, and Castilleja, 21, each pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges of attempted murder, torture and willful cruelty to a child. Bail for each has been set at $600,000.

According to the declaration, the child was crying around 1 a.m. when Avalos grabbed him from the couch, violently shook and then threw the boy onto the tile floor.

The child hit his head on the couch and the floor, the document says, and his arms stiffened as he began making uncontrollable jerking movements.

Castilleja took the boy to a neighbor, where an ambulance was called. Doctors diagnosed the child as having a severe brain bleed, according to the declaration.

The document says, “Doctors also discovered the victim was covered in fresh bruises, and several bruises were in the healing stages, suggesting ongoing abuse/torture.”

Avalos and Castilleja are next due in court Nov. 22.

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