BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The case of a Wasco couple charged with the attempted murder and torture of their 6-week-old son — who suffered dozens of fractures, was covered in bruises and had a burn to his foot — is now in the hands of jurors.
Closing arguments in the case against Jorge Millan and Elizabeth Jara wrapped Tuesday and the jury begin deliberating around 10 a.m.
It’s the prosecution’s theory Millan, 23, inflicted the injuries and Jara, 22, did not intervene or alert authorities. The baby, who suffered dozens of rib fractures as well as other broken bones, had injuries consistent with squeezing. X-rays revealed the fractures were in various stages of healing, indicating they were inflicted at different times.
“This is a parent who’s enjoying causing pain to his son, who he admitted he never wanted,” prosecutor Janae Knallay said.
During her rebuttal argument, she directed the jury’s attention to photos of a burn to the bottom of the baby’s foot. The circular black mark is believed to have been caused by a cigarette lighter.
“You burn somebody for a sadistic purpose,” Knallay said.
Millan and Jara were arrested after Jara took the baby to an urgent care facility in May 2021. The child was transported to a hospital and received intensive medical care. He recovered.
Defense attorneys pitted the couple against each other, arguing it remains unclear who inflicted the injuries.
Millan’s attorney, Monica Bermudez, gave her closing argument Monday, telling the jury the injuries were not evidence of an intent to kill. She said they were inflicted out of frustration.
That doesn’t excuse the harm, she said, but it also doesn’t support the allegations of attempted murder and torture.
Richard Rivera, the attorney representing Jara, also argued the evidence was insufficient to return guilty verdicts. He said nothing presented at trial shows his client either injured the boy or was aware of Millan’s abuse.
In response, Knallay pointed to Jara’s testimony, in which she said she heard the baby scream at night when Millan went to his crib. Jara also acknowledged seeing injuries.
Knallay noted both defense attorneys argued there was no intent to kill.
“Here’s the glaring problem with that argument,” she said. “They were killing him.”
The baby was close to death when he received treatment, Knallay said. She added that Jara thought only of herself when she finally took the baby to a doctor. Jara realized, Knallay said, that she’d be in even worse trouble if the child died.
The couple also face felony and misdemeanor child cruelty charges.
The misdemeanor was filed in connection with the couple’s then 1-year-old daughter, who lived with them and the baby in Millan’s father’s house, which was filled with dog feces and cockroaches. Some walls had gaping holes, piles of trash were everywhere and exposed wires hung from the ceiling.
The girl wasn’t physically abused, but the conditions of the home were so squalid that keeping her there constituted child cruelty, Knallay said.