An Arizona woman accused of starving her 3-year-old son and storing his body in a toy chest has been convicted of first-degree murder and child abuse. Raquel Barreras, 44, was convicted last Friday.

Prosecutors said the woman and her husband Martin starved their son Roman by not allowing anyone to feed him. Raquel pleaded guilty to the crime and her lawyer said she was a drug addict.

In the initial statements, her defense rejected the assertions of murder and said Roman was a “medically compromised” child. The marriage was stopped in March 2014 after human remains of his son were found in a plastic toy chest in the backyard of a house where the family lived.

According to Tucson police, the remains were discovered by an owner who was cleaning the house while the family was in the process of moving. Roman is believed to have died sometime between spring 2013 and January 2014 and, according to an autopsy report, died of starvation and abandonment.

The couple have four other children. In 2014, authorities reported that their three youngest children, who were minors, were turned over to Child Protective Services (CPS). Police said the other children did not appear to have any signs of abuse, but the children reportedly did not attend school regularly.

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor said the family had previous contact with CPS and that the agency had taken the children earlier, but returned them to the parents.

The child’s father was also charged with first-degree murder and is scheduled for trial in August. Raquel Barreras is expected to be sentenced on July 22.


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