Stepmother Starves 4-year-old to Death

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By Dr Cate

Miranda Casarez (Stepmother), 25, maintained a stoic demeanour and denied responsibility for the death of 4-year-old Benjamin Cervera, even as she was sentenced in San Antonio, Texas.

Her attorneys pleaded for leniency, emphasizing that Miranda has a 3-month-old child whom she breastfed throughout the trial. Miranda had subjected Benjamin to drinking urine, hand sanitizer, and hot sauce before his death, just a month shy of his 5th birthday.

At the time of his death on August 17, 2021, Benjamin weighed only 28 pounds. His father, Brandon Lee Cervera, also faces charges related to his death.

During the trial, emotional statements were made on behalf of Benjamin’s biological mother, Amy Flores Zepeda, who expressed her grief. Miranda was convicted on charges of injury to a child with serious bodily injury, and Brandon Cervera Sr. is awaiting trial next month on a similar charge.

Evidence presented in court included a video showing Benjamin tearfully pleading for food, saying, ‘I want bread,’ shortly before being rushed to the hospital, where he died from starvation.

Jurors heard that Miranda had texted her mother about intentionally withholding food from Benjamin and had installed locks on pantries to prevent him from accessing food.

Miranda tearfully begged for mercy during her sentencing, placing blame on Benjamin’s father for the abuse. She claimed to have loved Benjamin and pointed to a memorial tattoo she got of his birth and death as evidence. However, jurors unanimously convicted her after seeing images of Benjamin’s emaciated body at the hospital.

Despite earlier concerns about Benjamin’s health and involvement with Child Protection Services, he remained in Miranda’s care until his death at the Children’s Hospital of San Antonio.

Medical staff noted bruising on his body and were unable to resuscitate him upon arrival. Prosecutors argued against leniency for Miranda, emphasizing the severity of Benjamin’s suffering and the urgent need for justice in cases of child abuse.

Miranda’s attorney plans to appeal the sentence, criticizing the jury’s decision and arguing that Miranda was unfairly blamed for Benjamin’s death. Meanwhile, Brandon Cervera Sr. faces similar charges and continues to be investigated for his role in Benjamin’s tragic death.

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