05/18/2024

Some Crim

Track the Untold Stories

Noah Cuatro appears with his parents, who murdered him, in an undated Facebook photo

‘Such evil in you’: Mother and father who slowly tortured their 4-year-old son to death get decades behind bars

Left: Noah Cuatro appears with his parents, who murdered him, in an undated photo; Center: Jose Cuatro, Jr.; Right: Ursula Juarez (Facebook).

A California man and woman who tortured and murdered their 4-year-old son will spend will spend the next several decades behind bars.

Content warning: child abuse.

In late March, Jose Maria Cuatro, Jr., 32, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 30, pleaded no contest to two counts each for the July 2019 death of Noah Cuatro. The boy’s father accepted culpability on charges of murder in the first degree and torture. The boy’s mother accepted culpability on charges of murder in the second degree and torture.

The pair reported the child’s death as an accidental drowning that occurred in a community swimming pool at the apartments where the family lived in Palmdale. An autopsy, however, put the lie to that claim.

Related Coverage:

    Though Noah died by asphyxiation, there was no water in his lungs and his hair was dry when he was found. The medical examiner also turned up evidence of blunt force trauma and sexual assault. Noah also had multiple ribs in various stages of healing, bruises all over his body, and other internal injuries — including a lacerated liver.

    On Tuesday, Jose Cuatro was given a sentence of 32 years to life in prison by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert G. Chu sent; Juarez was given a sentence of 22 years to life in prison.

    As part of their plea deal, both defendants waived any right to appeal their sentences or convictions.

    Noah’s great-grandmother excoriated the murderous parents during their sentencing hearing in a statement read by a prosecutor, according to a courtroom report by City News Service, a regional wire service.

    “Why, my God, why is there such evil in you, Ursula? What kind of monster are you, Jose?” Evangelina Hernandez, the great-grandmother who previously had custody of Noah, said in her statement. “You’re both very sick! You are the worst kind of sickos.”

    Hernandez also said Juarez had previously told her that she did not like her own son. That sad state of affairs was amplified by the apparent disdain Jose Cuatro had for Noah. Prosecutors allege the boy’s father did not even believe Noah was his son and subsequently targeted him for brutal punishment, according to grand jury transcripts in the case obtained by West Coast NBC flagship KNBC.

    To complicate the tragedy, authorities in the Golden State apparently knew about the abuse Noah suffered and lived with for quite some time and, in the end, they failed to act — which some believe hastened the boy’s death.

    Noah Cuatro smiles

    Noah Cuatro smiles in a photograph (GoFundMe).

    “It deserves to be noted that the tragedy of Noah Cuatro has been and will continue to be felt far beyond these courtroom walls,” State Assemblymember Tom Lackey, a Republican, said during the sentencing hearing. “Noah was not only betrayed by his parents, who are sitting here today, but the network established to protect children from mistreatment also failed.”

    Noah’s parents lost custody of him once — when Hernandez came to take care of the boy. Noah was returned to his parents in 2018.

    Two months before he died, the boy’s social worker requested that he be removed from his parents once again — a request later approved by a judge but simply never put into action by authorities.

    A separate Department of Children and Family Services investigation began the month before the murder, based on a tip he had been sexually abused and other forms of domestic violence were occurring where he lived. This last time, child welfare agents were trying to interview family members when Noah died, DCFS officials told KNBC.

    Noah’s great aunt, in a victim impact statement, said her otherwise fond memories of Juarez had been erased by her ghastly crimes.

    “She would paint a picture of her being a great mom while abusing Noah behind closed doors,” Maggie Hernandez, the boy’s great aunt, said. “I will never forget him and I will never forget the monsters who took him away from us.”

    Join the discussion 

    The post ‘Such evil in you’: Mother and father who slowly tortured their 4-year-old son to death get decades behind bars first appeared on Law & Crime.