HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — The notion that Jack Garcia’s mom is complicit in his fatal beating — for the offense of eating birthday cake without permission — doesn’t sound right to her former boyfriend.
Oriana Garcia favored time-outs over corporal punishment for her artistic but stubborn 9-year-old son, Daniel Fletcher said Tuesday.
“She was a loving mother,” Fletcher said in an interview outside the apartment where Jack lived with his mother, her boyfriend Robert Leroy “Roy” Wilson and her brother, Jacob Andrew Barajas. All three are charged in connection with Jack’s death on July 5, five days after police say he was handcuffed by Barajas and beaten by Wilson.
Police say Wilson — a man Garcia met online and moved across the country to live with– gave the boy a fatal beating for eating a piece of birthday cake without permission.
Police also say Garcia refused the services of an ambulance her brother had summoned to the apartment on the night Jack was beaten. Paramedics were called back five hours later and took the boy to a hospital, where he died five days later.
Garcia isn’t accused of abusing Jack on June 30. However, Hagerstown Police Capt. Paul Kifer said she “was an active participant” in past physical abuse of her son.
But Fletcher said Garcia frowned upon corporal punishment when they were together. She had read that physical punishment can make a child more aggressive, he said.
“I don’t think she knew that Jack was in peril,” Fletcher said. “I don’t believe for a second she would have sent them away, knowing that he was in peril, that he was injured the way he was.”
Police say Barajas handcuffed Jack to a chair and Wilson hit him while Garcia was at work. Police say Garcia then came home but initially turned away paramedics, saying the boy was only “congested” and didn’t need medical attention.
When paramedics were summoned again they found Jack unconscious, with numerous bruises and cuts, Kifer said. They brought him to a hospital and called police. Wilson was arrested after Barajas and Garcia told police Wilson had hit the boy in the stomach for stealing birthday cake.
A charging document includes this note: “According to Oriana, Jack has a problem with stealing things.”
Garcia, 26, and Barajas, 23, were arrested on second-degree murder and child abuse charges Monday after police said they had been preparing to leave town. They are due in court Wednesday for a review of their bail, set at $5 million each. Defense attorneys were not listed in court records.
Wilson, 30, was charged June 30 with first- and second-degree assault, child abuse and reckless endangerment. His bail is set at $1 million. Police say more charges are possible, pending a grand jury hearing next week. Wilson’s public defender, Joshua Street, didn’t immediately return a phone call Tuesday from The Associated Press.
Fletcher said he flew to Maryland from Utah on Saturday to attend Jack’s funeral. He said he had lived with Garcia and her son for five years in Arizona and in Goleta, California, before she moved in late February to Davis’ apartment in Hagerstown.
AP writer Kasey Jones contributed to this story from Baltimore.