PHOENIX (AP) — A jailed father has denied sexually and physically abusing his 3-year-old daughter who weighed just 15 pounds and had numerous injuries when she died last weekend, a television station reported.
Carlos Cruz, 28, and Rosemary Velazco, 36, of Surprise remained in custody Wednesday on suspicion of felony child abuse and authorities said more charges could be filed.
Police said the child showed signs of being beaten and sexually abused and weighed just 15 pounds when she was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead Saturday, a week shy of her 4th birthday. .
“I’m not guilty of what they’re investigating,” Cruz told Phoenix TV station KTVK (http://bit.ly/1cZBYQl) in an interview Tuesday at the Maricopa County Jail. “My conscience is clean … She’s my blood. She’s my daughter.”
The girl showed signs of extreme malnourishment and had injuries all over her body that were in various stages of healing and had a 1-inch cut on her forehead that exposed her skull, police said.
Investigators said Rosemary Velazco told them her husband has anger issues and would use a belt to repeatedly whip the girl and her 6-year-old brother.
“Yes, I would hit her. I can’t say I didn’t,” Cruz told KTVK. “I would hit her but not to the point of killing her. Two on the behind or one with a belt. The normal.”
Police served a search warrant and found a small paint can that appeared to be used as a toilet by the children, and the girl’s bed, which was a 2-foot-by-2-foot wobbly wood structure. The girl and her brother shared a bedroom with their parents.
The bedroom door had no handle, but it did have a padlock about 43 inches from the floor that could be locked and opened only from the outside, according to police, who said they also found keys to the lock suspended by a rope about 6 feet off the floor.
“I was told by investigators this is one of the worst cases of child abuse and neglect they have seen in their career,” Surprise police Lt. Bert Anzini said.
Police also said there was little food in the refrigerator, but the freezer contained beer.
Cruz said his daughter only weighed 15 pounds “because she ate very little.”
Arizona Department of Child Safety officials said the girl was removed from the home in 2011 when she and her mother tested positive for amphetamines at her birth.
Cruz and Rosemary Velazco are jailed on bail of $500,000 apiece. Neither has an attorney yet. The couple’s 6-year-old son and an infant are in foster care, according to authorities.
Cruz said he hopes he can put the allegations behind him and regain custody of the two children.
Information from: KTVK-TV, http://www.azfamily.com/
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