The girlfriend's daughter has testified that Castenada made the little boy live in a closet and habitually beat him. The sicko even videotaped the boy while naked, with the boy being forced to point out his bruises and welts.
As for the mother, she has testified that Castenada also beat her from Christmas 2004 to June 2005, and that she had screamed at Castenada to stop during the final beating. But she will be serving 16 years for voluntary manslaughter anyway, 'cause somehow she was supposed to stop this sadist.
ESCONDIDO: Trial of man accused in toddler killing nearing end
By SARAH GORDON - email@example.com
Thursday, June 25, 2009 8:35 PM PDT
VISTA ---- On Thursday, the grim anniversary of an Escondido toddler's death, a prosecutor told a North County jury that the boyfriend of the child's mother murdered him in a vicious beating that followed months of sadistic abuse.
"Four years ago at this time, a little boy was being beaten to death at the hands of a man he believed was his father," prosecutor Lucy Weismantel told the jury in the Vista courtroom.
The remarks came as part of the closing arguments in the more than monthlong trial of Jose Maurice Castenada, 24, accused of inflicting the fatal blows on 2-year-old Cesar Razo in the family's Escondido apartment on June 25, 2005.
If convicted of first-degree murder and an allegation of torture, Castenada could face the death penalty.
In his closing arguments, defense attorney Allen Bloom argued the boy’s mother, Maria Razo, could have administered the fatal beating, and that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Castenada was responsible.
"There isn’t any camera that was in that room at the time Cesar died," Bloom said.
The boy died about 20 minutes after the couple took him unconscious to Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. The pair told doctors he had fallen from a swing set.
The child's mother has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and two counts of child abuse. She is serving a sentence of 16 years 8 months in prison and testified against Castenada during his trial.
On Thursday, Weismantel told the jury that Razo was a "doormat" who had been controlled by a bullying, violent Castenada.
The prosecutor said Razo did nothing to stop Castenada from beating her, Cesar or her daughter Dulce Razo, 5, at the time of her brother's death, and stood by while he administered Cesar's final beating. However, Weismantel argued, Razo's testimony about Cesar's death was believable, corroborated by Dulce's testimony and physical evidence.
"On June 25, he beat (Cesar), he punched him, he strangled him, he slammed him against a wall, Ms. Razo testified," the prosecutor said.
An autopsy revealed that Cesar, who had a torn liver and a fractured skull, died from injuries to his head and abdomen.
The jury on Thursday reviewed the boy’s autopsy photos showing bruising and red marks on nearly his entire body, with multiple bruises on his head and large bruises and welts covering his torso. There also were what appeared to be long, thin welts on his genitalia.
Weismantel also asked the jury to recall Dulce's videotaped testimony describing how Castenada had beaten her brother on the day he died.
The little girl also recalled how the man she called "Mauricio" made her brother live in a closet, habitually beat him with hangers, cords and belts and punched him until he threw up.
Maria Razo also testified to Castenada's violence during the trial, attorneys said, saying that he beat her from Christmas 2004 until June 2005.
Bloom, the defense attorney, began his closing arguments by asking the jury to question Maria Razo's credibility. He said she was depressed and had attempted suicide in the months before her son's death, suggesting she was mentally disturbed and not to be believed. And he cited a lack of independent evidence to support her account that Castenada was habitually abusive.
Bloom asked jurors to recall expert testimony that trace amounts of blood found in the closet refuted the notion that the boy was chronically beaten. And he pointed to a roommate's testimony that he heard nothing during the 20 minutes Castenada was allegedly beating Cesar, with Maria Razo screaming at him to stop.
Attorneys for both sides disputed the meaning of a video made by Castenada eight days before Cesar’s death. In the video, the naked boy points out numerous welts and bruises on his body.
According to Weismantel, the video is proof of Castaneda's sadism.
"He enjoyed doing every single vicious thing possible to this defenseless little child," she said. "I think it’s very obvious he enjoyed it; he enjoyed the control he had over this child. And he enjoyed documenting it."
Bloom recalled Castenada's trial testimony, in which he said he noticed the boy's injuries as he went to bathe him and made the video to show the child's mother.
Closing statements are scheduled to continue Friday.