Grandma: Dad didn’t know about abuse
Two suspects gave police conflicting stories
What: A community vigil for Christian Pearson, a 10-year-old Chino Valley boy who died on Sunday.
When: 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17
Where: Memory Park, Palomino Road and Road 1 West, Chino Valley
The grandmother of a 10-year-old boy who died Sunday night, June 11, an apparent victim of abuse, said Wednesday that neither she nor the boy’s father had any idea that there was abuse going on in his mother and boyfriend’s Chino Valley home.
Andrea Pearson said Christian Pearson showed no outward signs of abuse when he visited her home, where his father, Erik, also lived, in Tucson.
“There was no indication that this was an abused child,” she said.
But Chino Valley Police spokesman Vince Schaan said that, when authorities responded to a 911 call for a child not breathing at about 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, June 8, to a home in the 1200 block of Poco Lane, Christian was found with second- and third-degree burns as well as bruising to the back, torso, extremities, neck and head.
Julianna Moreno, 34, his mother, and Daniel Terry 36, her boyfriend, are charged with first-degree murder, two counts of abuse or neglect of a minor, eight counts of aggravated assault, and two counts of endangerment.
“Evidence suggests these injures were inflicted upon the child at the residence, while he was bound and restrained and unable to protect himself or flee,” Schaan said.
Christian had visible burns when he was found on the living room floor, but he apparently suffered his injuries in his bedroom, Schaan said, and he also had bruises indicating prior abuse.
He was flown to Children’s Hospital in Phoenix, but was taken off life support on Sunday.
Andrea said Erik was planning to move Christian to Tucson after he bought a home, because the larger city would offer the boy more things to do.
Christian was also set to visit the area for a summer camp this month and next, she said.
“I don’t understand what happened to (Julianna),” Andrea said. “She was a hover-mother. What happened?”
The Chino Valley Police statement of probable cause said that Julianna first told police that she was outside, came in, and found Christian on the floor of his bedroom, unconscious. She said she dragged him into the living room and started CPR while calling 911, and that Terry was on the way to a pharmacy to pick up a prescription.
Terry told police that he went inside to check on the children (also present was his daughter), he found Christian on the bedroom floor, dragged him out, and started CPR.
Julianna, he said, was not home at first.
Terry said “he then left the residence and drove away because he was traumatized by the incident,” the statement said.
After that, Julianna told police she wanted to change her story.
She said she was coming home from a medical marijuana dispensary when she saw Terry on the front porch, waving at her. She came into to find Christian in a recliner not breathing, moved him to the floor, and started CPR, while Terry left, “telling her he did not want to lose his daughter (to Child Protective Services),” the statement said.
Later, Julianna said that Terry had tied Christian’s hands behind his back with an elastic bandage “in an attempt to show him was it felt like to be in prison,” the statement said, and Terry turned on a heater in his room, “in order to punish the child for misbehaving.”
The report concluded by noting that Christian had burns “most likely from a hot object being placed directly onto the body,” and that he also had a traumatic brain injury.
Andrea places the blame for Christian’s death squarely on Terry, saying she believed Terry was “jealous” of Christian.
“I was making all kinds of excuses for (Julianna), but I can’t anymore” she said. “Julie was so – there’s no excuse – Julie was so cowed (by Terry), that she couldn’t defend (Christian)?”
“I honestly don’t think the abuse started until recently,” she added.
Andrea said she and Erik were unlikely to attend a vigil in Chino Valley Saturday evening.
“I might lose it,” she said, and Erik “just can’t.”