Case of Boy Who Starved to Death Ends

8-25-05 - The mother and three relatives of a 4-year-old boy who died of starvation on Christmas Day 2003 pleaded guilty in the case.

Liza Ochoa had sent her son, Jovonie, to live with relatives because she was addicted to heroin. But Jovonie was starved, beaten and tied to a bunk bed for prolonged periods at his grandmother's home, his mouth covered with duct tape, prosecutors say.

Ochoa, 25, pleaded guilty Wednesday to endangering a child and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Jovonie's aunt, Delores Esqueda, 27; his uncle, Geronimo Esqueda, 21; and his step-grandfather, Juan Palacios, 54, also pleaded guilty to injury to a child Wednesday. Each received the maximum 10-year prison sentence, with credit for time already served, and a $1,200 fine.

The three were living in the house when the boy died. Authorities say when they found him, Jovonie weighed 16 pounds, less than half of what a boy his age should weigh.

In the spring Jovonie's grandmother, Maria Palacios, 48, was sentenced to life in prison for the boy's death.