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Miami couple indicted on murder, abuse charges

March 24, 2011
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

MIAMI (AP) - For months, Jorge and Carmen Barahona beat their 10-year-old adopted twins with a shoe, broom or whip, bound their hands and feet and locked them in a bathroom for days, according to an 18-count indictment charging the couple with first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and child neglect.

The Barahonas are scheduled to appear in court Monday when prosecutors will announce whether they intend to seek the death penalty. The Miami-Dade state attorney has previously said the death penalty is likely because of the gruesome allegations.

Jorge Barahona is also charged with mutilating his daughter Nubia's body by pouring toxic chemicals on her, according to Wednesday's indictment. Her body was found Valentine's Day stuffed in plastic bags in the back of her father's truck. Her brother Victor, who survived, was in the front writhing in seizures and suffering from chemical burns. Victor is now living in a therapeutic foster home and his biological aunt and uncle are trying to adopt him.

The Barahonas were also accused of placing a plastic bag over Victor's head, "causing a loss of conscious or restricting his ability to breathe" and forced the twins to stand or sit in a corner of a room for hours, according to the indictment.

Jorge Barahona was charged with hitting Victor in the lip causing permanent disfigurement, according to the report.

He has also pleaded not guilty to attempted first-degree murder in West Palm Beach for the alleged Valentine's Day attack on Victor.

The Barahona's two other adopted children were also taken from their custody. The indictment also includes a neglect charge for one of those children.

Police in their arrest report had originally said that the father had struck the fatal blows, but in the indictment both parents are accused of beating the girl to death.

Defense attorneys said the Barahonas waived their right to appear in court and wanted to avoid the media.

"It's my desire to minimize further media attention," said public defender Edith Georgi. "It only adds fuel to the fire.

Prosecutor Gail Levine argued the Barahonas should be present "to see the gravity of the proceedings."

Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel said the Barahonas should appear for Monday's arraignment, but would not have to appear at future hearings.

The Department of Children and Families has also been scrutinized in Nubia's death for ignoring allegations from school officials that Nubia was being abused. The couple, who adopted the children from foster care, were also the subject of several abuse allegations before Nubia was killed.

A three-person panel appointed to investigate Nubia's death blamed inept social workers and gross lack of communication in an agency-wide failure to protect the children.



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