West Valley City, UT – On Monday, a Utah mother was charged with two counts of felony child abuse in relation to her boyfriend murdering her 21-month-old son.
According to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, 22-year-old Gena Sanchez was charged after police learned that she was aware that her boyfriend, 17-year-old Isaiah Weaver, had been physically abusing her three children, KTSU reported.
Sanchez even witnessed some of the attacks, but did nothing to stop them, or to find help for her family, police said.
Sanchez, Weaver, and Sanchez’s children had been living with Sanchez’s mother for approximately one month when police were called to their residence at 12:15 p.m. on Jan. 16.
The caller reported that 21-month old Jaycieion Sanchez had been found unconscious and unresponsive, according to KDVR.
Police found the toddler lying on the bathroom floor with a large bruise on his cheek. He was cold to the touch, and his eyes were partially open, court documents said.
Jaycieion was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Medical personnel ultimately determined that “it was likely that [Jaycieion] had been deceased for some time before emergency personnel had arrived,” court documents noted.
The toddler’s body was covered in bruises and scars, and he had sustained severe head trauma indicative of heavy impacts and “vigorous shaking,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Investigators found “fresh blood droplets on the walls, ceiling, and many other pieces of furniture” at the residence, KDVR reported.
Weaver told police that he was throwing Jaycieion in the air “because he wanted him to be quiet,” and that the little boy struck his head on the ceiling, court documents said.
He also “admitted he had a bad temper” during his conversation with police, and said he had “gone too far” on the day Jaycieion was killed, KTSU reported.
According to KDVR, Weaver said he also threw the toddler on several occasions in the days prior to his murder, and that Jaycieion hit his head on the floor.
Sanchez admitted that she had observed marks on another of her children, who was two years old, police said. She also witnessed Weaver striking the second child in the mouth on one occasion, court documents said.
She confessed that she watched Weaver spank Jaycieion’s bare bottom on one occasion, and that he kicked her baby in the back in another instance.
Police said that Jaycieion’s 5-year-old brother told them that Weaver would heat a clothes hanger with a lighter, and spank them with the hot metal as punishment, court documents said.
Sanchez told police that “Weaver seemed jealous” of her relationship with Jaycieion, and that she “had a weird feeling” about leaving him with Weaver while she went to work on the day he was ultimately murdered.
Prior to being charged, Sanchez vowed to obtain justice for her baby’s brutal death.
“I will never forget you Jay, I will never forget you,” she told KSTU. “You’re always in my heart, and I will not rest until you get justice.”
She said she was struggling to cope with the loss of her son.
“He was the happiest baby ever,” Sanchez said. “You ask him a question like, ‘Did you miss me?’ And he says ‘Yeah!’ I can still hear it.”
“Instead of having a two-year-old birthday for my son, now I need to bury him,” she said through tears.
Weaver was charged as an adult for a first-degree felony count of aggravated murder, and two second-degree felony counts of child abuse.
Because he was a juvenile, the judge would not allow him to be photographed by the media, KTVX reported.
His mother, Charita Weaver, said her son was not capable of killing the toddler.
“It was just an accident,” she told KTVX. “He’s a good kid. He don’t hurt no baby.”
When KSTU contacted Sanchez about the charges against her, she told the news outlet that the allegations were “all a lie,” and that the truth “would come out.”
Sanchez was scheduled to make an initial court appearance on Mar. 5, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.