[UPDATED with Mistrial:] Gabriela Mariana Morales, Accused in Beating Death of 4-Year-Old Son, Saved by Lone Juror (For Now)
UPDATE, MAY 20, 10:08 A.M.: After a mistrial was declared Thursday in the trial of Gabriela Mariana Morales, who stood accused of murder in the beating death of her 4-year-old son, prosecutors announced they will retry the case. A lone juror was unwilling to convict the 28-year-old Santa Ana woman of anything, while a second juror refused to vote for a second-degree murder count. That juror did join the other 10 in finding Morales guilty of assault and child abuse.
After questioning the jury foreman, Orange County Superior Court Judge John D. Conley in Santa Ana found that while the lone male juror was irrational and illogical, the jurist could not conclude the juror had been unwilling to deliberate and, therefore, eligible to be discharged for misconduct.
According to a report by the Orange County Register's Larry Welborn and Vik Jolly, the holdout juror questioned whether Morales was beaten by police investigators and whether DNA evidence found on a bloody towel in her home matched that of little Brandon Morales. (Even experts agreed there's an infinitesimal chance it's someone else's blood.)
Alberto Solis Guzman,
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30, was sentenced today to 25 years to life in prison for assaulting, battering, endangering and causing the death of his girlfriend's 4-year-old son.
The mother of Brandon Morales--who died May 30, 2008--still faces trial later this year for her role in her boy's death.
Guzman reportedly showed no emotion when Superior Court Judge W. Michael Hayes handed down his sentence.
ORIGINAL POST, NOV. 23, 2010, 1:12 P.M.: Alberto Solis Guzman has been convicted of assaulting his girlfriend's 4-year-old son with great bodily injury to the child's head resulting in his death. The boy's mother faces not only that charge but a murder rap and other felony counts at her trial.
Like Guzman, Gabriela Mariana Morales, 28, of Santa Ana, could receive up to 34 years to life in state prison with a conviction.
Morales' son Brandon lived a nightmarish short life. His 9-year-old brother testified during Guzman's trial that Guman repeatedly hit the younger child with his hands and a belt, and that the couple forced Brandon to sleep on the floor, refused to feed him and made him stand in a corner with his hands above his head for extended periods.
Guzman's conviction was based largely on evidence that showed he repeatedly hit and punched the 4-year-old April 30, 2008. A month to the day later, Morales allegedly caused her pride and joy to fall unconscious after several blows to his head, according to prosecutors.
However, she aited several hours before calling 911, authorities allege.
Paramedics took Brandon to Children's Hospital of Orange County in Orange, where he was pronounced dead from blunt-force trauma to the head.
At the time of his arrest, police say, Guzman admitted to having hit Brandon before but claimed that it was never very hard and that Morales murdered her baby.