Mangilao couple held on bail for allegedly starving toddler
by Mindy Aguon
Guam - The parents of a 14-month-old toddler appeared before a Superior Court judge today, accused of neglecting their child so much so that it resulted in her death. 34-year-old Ray Anthony Ayuyu Hocog and 33-year-old Mary Pereira Rojas appeared before Magistrate Judge Alberto Tolentino this afternoon after spending the last day and a half behind bars.
His Honor asked Hocog if she had a copy of the complaint and if she had read it, which she confirmed she did. "The people of Guam are charging you as a 1st degree felony, and child abuse as a 3rd degree felony in this complaint," he explained to her. Hocog and Rojas were arrested by the Guam Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division late Wednesday afternoon in connection with their daughter's death.
The Mangilao couple faces charges of manslaughter as a 1st degree felony and child abuse as a 3rd degree felony for the alleged neglect of their 14-month-old daughter. Last Saturday medics responded to the couple's home where they found the toddler not breathing. They transported her to Naval Hospital where she was pronounced dead several hours later. But her death sparked concerns from Naval Hospital physicians who contacted Child Protective Services who in turn called police.
Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola confirms the toddler died from pneumonia and malnutrition saying she was "skin and bones". Prosecutor Stephen Leon Guerrero asked the court to impose $100,000 bail for each of the defendants, saying, "We're alleging that this defendant along with the co-defendant allowed their 14-month-old daughter to starve to death and we're also extremely concerned because this defendant and the co-defendant have six other minors. So we do feel the $100,000 cash bail is appropriate and warranted due to the significant and serious nature of the charges and the resulting death of this minor child."
According to the magistrate's complaint, the toddler was born on May 30 of last year weighing 6 lbs. When she died, she weighed 5 lbs., 8 oz. and the prosecutor's declaration indicated that she has not received medical attention since her birth. The toddler's rib cage was clearly evident and her arms and legs reportedly had an approximate circumference of a nickel and quarter. Court documents state the child contracted pneumonia as a result of her malnutrition.
The couple, when interviewed by police said they live together and took turns taking care of the toddler and her siblings based on their work schedules. According to Leon Guerrero, the two are both employed at LSG, Lufthansa Service Guam, Inc. "As indicated by the prosecution, you face a potential 15 years incarceration for this crime if you are convicted - the court believes $100,000 cash bail is reasonable and appropriate at this time," announced the judge.
Leon Guerrero could not provide the condition of the couple's other six children because they are minors; CPS has stepped in and placed the children with relatives.
Hocog and Rojas are scheduled to appear back in court for a preliminary hearing on Monday, August 1.