PHOENIX – Juan Garcia (D.O.B. 7/12/1993) will serve a 25-year term in the Arizona Department of Corrections for beating his girlfriend’s two-year-old son to death after the child refused to eat his dinner. Garcia pled guilty earlier this year to one count of second degree murder, a Dangerous Crime Against Children, and one count of child abuse. Under terms of his sentence imposed today by the Honorable Rosa Mroz, Garcia will not be eligible for early release and will be placed on lifetime probation after serving his term.
“This defendant justly deserves the maximum allowable sentence for the savage brutality of his actions that led to the tragic and senseless death of this innocent child,” said Maricopa County Bill Montgomery. “There is simply no excuse for harming a child in this manner and we will continue to vigorously hold accountable those who do,” he added.
Sometime between 7:00 and 7:30 p.m. on February 24, 2012, Juan Garcia arrived with some food at the residence he shared with his girlfriend, Wendy Rogel-Pagasa, and her two-year-old son, Jorge. When she told him the boy would not eat the food he had brought home, Garcia pulled Jorge out of a bedroom by his ear. Jorge cried and Garcia told him to shut up. After trying unsuccessfully to quiet the child, Garcia grabbed him by the throat, lifted him off the ground and slammed his head into a wall multiple times.
Rogel-Pagasa pleaded with Garcia to stop, but he continued to assault the child by striking his head against the ground, rendering him unconscious and unresponsive. When Rogel-Pagasa tried to intervene, Garcia assaulted her by whipping her with an electrical cord and choking her. He attempted to revive the child by striking him, lifting him by his ankle and bending his fingers back. He then left the residence.
Rogel-Pagasa remained with Jorge for about 90 minutes without seeking medical assistance or aid from neighbors. During that time she tried unsuccessfully to revive the child. Garcia returned to the residence and again attempted to revive Jorge by hitting him and bending his fingers back. Eventually, Jorge stopped breathing. At around 10:45 p.m., Rogel-Pagasa called 9-1-1. First responders arrived minutes later and pronounced the child dead.
On March 5, 2014, the Grand Jurors of Maricopa County charged Juan Garcia with one count of first degree felony murder, two counts of child abuse, one count of aggravated assault, and one misdemeanor count of assault. He subsequently waived his right to a trial and pled guilty to second degree murder and child abuse.
Wendy Rogel-Pagasa pled guilty to one count of negligent homicide and one count of child abuse. She is scheduled to be sentenced on January 8, 2015.