Family members expected to testify in case of 2-year-old boy’s death

EDINBURG — The-2 year-old boy had stopped breathing long before he was admitted into Knapp Medical Center on Thanksgiving morning 2014.

Hours later, the medical staff declared Jacob Alexander Lucio dead as a result of severe injuries suffered at least a day before.

That same evening, authorities arrested the boy’s mother, Karla Tania De Jesus Lucio, in connection with his death and charged her with two first-degree charges, injury to child causing serious bodily injury or death with an object and injury to a child causing serious bodily injury or death by omission.

Yesterday, the state’s prosecutors Andrew L. Almaguer and Michael V. Walker, and Lucio’s attorneys, O. Rene Flores and Hector Hernandez Jr., began the selection process to determine the jurors who will serve on the jury in the trial against the Donna woman.

Inside the 398th courtroom, Flores and Almaguer went through their presentations as part of the process in choosing 12 jurors and two alternates.

A handful of the more than 50 potential jurors raised questions about who else was present to witness the abuse.

When asked by Flores what facts the potential jurors would need to better understand the case, many stated they would need to know who else was home and who was in charge of the boy’s care.

Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office investigators have released very few details of what took place the hours before someone drove the unconscious boy to the hospital.

One element of the case not disclosed by authorities when they arrested Hernandez but figures to play a role in the jurors’ deliberations later on in the trial is the question of who else was at the residence with Lucio and her boy during the abuse.

Lucio shifted the blame to the people living with her after she claimed they threatened harm to her if she made an outcry about the abuse suffered by the 2-year-old boy, according to statements she provided to authorities after her arrest.

Almaguer and Walker each declined comment, citing their policy to not make any comments until after the conclusion of the trial.

Flores and Hernandez also declined comment, citing their own policy to withhold making comments until after the trial is over but Flores did say he looked forward to the truth coming out during the trial.

Expected to testify in Lucio’s trial are several members of her family, including at least one of the victim’s siblings. It is unclear if the victim’s biological father will show up in court despite efforts on the state’s behalf to require him to appear. If jurors find Lucio guilty, it will be up to the court to decide during the punishment phase how much time she would have to serve.

Lucio’s trial is the latest in a string of cases in Hidalgo County involving the death of a child under 7 years old.

Last month Flores represented a 25-year-old Weslaco man who was sentenced to 25 years in prison in connection with the death of his nearly 13-month-old stepson.

Daniel Rodolfo Morales was facing life in prison in connection with the 2015 death of Sebastian Morales but was found not guilty of capital murder by a jury in May.

Instead jurors found him guilty of the lesser-included charge of criminally negligent homicide, according to court records.

In June, jurors found a San Juan man guilty of beating to death his 9-month-old baby boy.

Ruben Livas Gonzalez Jr., 33, was sentenced to 50 years in prison after he agreed to a plea deal, according to court records. In exchange, the state dismissed two of Livas’ additional charges, felony murder and injury to a child, according to court records.

In September, a Weslaco woman accused of causing the death of her 1-day-old baby boy is scheduled in court as her trial date nears.

In January of last year a Hidalgo County grand jury indicted Sandy Hernandez Perez in connection with the death of a boy she delivered at her home in rural Weslaco, according to court records.

At the time of her arrest in October 2014, the 23-year-old full-time college student told investigators after she delivered the baby at her home she took him outside and collapsed, injuring herself and the newborn.

Weslaco police said officers found the newborn alone on the front lawn of Perez’s home in the 5900 block of La Quinta Lane while she was still inside. Hernandez and the baby were rushed to a local hospital where the baby later died, police said.

Perez also faces up to life in prison if found guilty.

Lucio’s trial is expected to begin Wednesday morning.