TW: mentions of child abuse and death. In Portland Oregon, Sacora Horn-Garcia and Estevan Garcia were convicted of first-degree criminal mistreatment in the death of their 5-year-old daughter, Maliyha Garcia. Maliyha was found dead in their family home on December 21, 2016, just 4 days before Christmas.
An autopsy performed on Maliyha concluded that the cause of her death was starvation and claimed that there was no other possible medical explanation for her death. Sacora Horn-Garcia, Malyha’s adoptive mother took responsibility for not taking her to the hospital sooner but claims that the girl’s weight was the result of a medical condition and not due to starvation. She claimed that she believed that there was something medically wrong with Maliyha but did not believe that she was dying.
Under Oregon law, a charge of first-degree criminal treatment essentially means that a person is in violation of their legal obligation to care for someone that they’re considered responsible for or that is legally dependent on them. In the case of Maliyha, they were accused of withholding food from her and for not seeking medical care for her when she desperately needed it. Maliyha weighed 24lbs when she died. The normal weight range for a 5-year-old girl is considered to be 34 lbs on the low end and 50lbs on the high end. It took about a half a day for the Jury to deliberate and deliver the guilty conviction.
Maliyha was adopted by Estevan Garcia just after she was born and found with methamphetamines in her system. Medical evidence supports that Maliyha had a normal growth and weight pattern up until March 2016, which was the last time her size was recorded. In March she weighed in the 50th percentile for her age group. At her time of death, she’d lost 25% of her body weight even though it was only a 9 month time difference.
The decline in her health corresponded to her father’s marriage to her stepmother. There was evidence by way of text message that suggests that the marriage started to suffer shortly after it began and that Maliyha’s stepmother took out her anger and frustrations on her stepdaughter.
A sentencing hearing has already been scheduled for the couple for November 18, 2019. It is believed that the couple will be sentenced to anywhere between 25 and 35 years in prison each with the chance of parole only after the full prison sentence has been served.