Caretaker gets maximum sentence for 7-year-old's starvation death
An Orange County woman who starved her boyfriend's son to death was sentenced today to 15 years in prison for manslaughter.
News 12’s Blaise Gomez was inside the courtroom as the boy’s primary caretaker asked for forgiveness and new information was revealed about what led up to the tragedy.
“I pray every night for Peter’s forgiveness,” said Leticia Bravo.
A tearful and shackled Bravo spoke in court for the first time Tuesday about the heinous crimes she committed against 7-year-old Peter Cuacuas.
“All he wanted was a mom and I never was the mom he needed.”
Bravo pleaded for leniency in her remarks and asked for the minimum of 10 years in prison for starving and torturing the child to death.
Orange County Supreme Court Justice Honorable Craig Brown sentenced Bravo to the maximum of 15 years behind bars for manslaughter.
“You treated him as if he didn’t exist,” said Brown.
New information was also revealed that the Newburgh boy was deprived of food and locked in a bedroom up to five months during the pandemic before his death last year.
It was said Bravo had two locks on the outside of the boy’s bedroom door – feet away from a refrigerator full of food for Bravo and her biological children.
“The entire household, including Miss Bravo, lied about everything during the initial interviews. Even stating that they didn’t know who Peter was,” said Brown.
Peter, who had autism, was 37 pounds when he died and missed online classes for weeks.
Orange County District Attorney Dave Hoovler said the child would likely be alive were it not for COVID-19 changes in school.
The boy’s father, Arturo Cuacuas, has pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide for failing to help his son.
“There’s more elements than just my client’s harmful and horrific actions but she’s paying the price,” said Eric Shiller, Bravo’s defense attorney.
The boy’s older brother has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Newburgh school district for allegedly failing to notify child protective services of the child’s plight.
The boy's father is awaiting sentencing.
News 12 reached out to the Newburgh school district for comment but have not heard back.
Bravo had her mother and sister present at sentencing, but no one was there on behalf of Peter Cuacuas.