SALINAS, CA (KION/KRCR/CNN) – In what prosecutors are calling one of the worst child abuse cases they’ve ever seen, a California man accused of torturing two children to death when he was 17 years old could face life in prison.
Judge Timothy Roberts ruled Monday that 19-year-old Gonzalo Curiel would be tried as an adult in the 2015 deaths of the 3-year-old and 6-year-old Tara siblings.
Curiel was 17 when he was charged with murder, felony child abuse and three counts of torture. If sent to juvenile court, he would have been released by age 23.
The judge deemed the crime too serious for juvenile hall and decided Curiel should face harsher punishment.
“The court finds the minor is not amenable to the juvenile court system and orders that he be transferred to the superior court to be tried as an adult,” Roberts said.
Being tried as an adult, Curiel now faces life in prison. He cannot be sentenced to death because he was still a minor when charged with the crimes.
The man’s co-defendant and alleged accomplice, 41-year-old Tami Huntsman, is eligible for the death penalty.
The two are accused of torturing and killing 3-year-old Delylah Tara and 6-year-old Shaun Tara then dumping the children’s bodies in a plastic bin at a storage facility in Redding, CA.
They are also accused of torturing the children’s older sister, who was 9 years old at the time.
Prosecutors say they have 100 witnesses, and the entire trial is expected to take three to four months.
The Tara children’s mother was living with Huntsman when she died in an accident. Their father is incarcerated and apparently asked Huntsman to care for the three children.
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