Johnstown - A quiet, working-class neighborhood in this small town 40 miles north of Denver quickly became distraught over the news of the death of a popular 7-year-old girl, who allegedly died from abuse by her older sister and her boyfriend.
Zoe Garcia, who was described as "a beautiful little girl", died on Dec. 6 from "blunt force trauma" to her brain and central nervous system, according to the Weld County Coroner. Her right wrist was broken, her body had more than 20 bruises, her neck muscles were bleeding and a skin flap near her tongue had been torn.
Zoe's older sister, Heather Trujillo, 16, and her boyfriend, Lamar Roberts, 17, of Westminster, were arrested Tuesday and charged with child abuse resulting in death, a Class
* Read the arrest affadavits for Lamar Roberts and Heather Trujillo (13 pages, PDF)
II felony. They are in custody, each being held on $100,000 bond.
According to the arrest affidavits, Trujillo told investigators she and Roberts were babysitting Zoe and her twin, 3-year-old sisters, while their mother worked at the Corral Bar about five blocks away.
Trujillo said they were acting out the video game "Mortal Combat" by savagely hitting and kicking Zoe, even dropping her on her side, which broke her wrist. Roberts, who claimed to be a martial-arts expert with his hands registered as "lethal weapons, said Zoe had asked him to stop hitting her but that he didn't because "...I was drunk."
Roberts said he had performed a back kick on her, then kicked her again as she ran toward him. She fell back and didn't get up. She had stopped breathing, and Trujillo and Roberts waited 15 minutes before calling for help.
They said they put her in a bath, which temporarily revived her, but that she stopped breathing again. Roberts said he cracked an egg in her mouth "to see if she was messing around with them."
The egg went down her throat, the affidavit stated.
Finally, the mother and paramedics were called. Zoe was taken to the Northern Colorado Medical Center where she was pronounced dead.
One neighbor said she suspected Zoe was being abused and said she reported it to authorities before she died.
Rhonda Simonetti said she baby-sat Zoe and her twin sisters twice, for four days each time, when she noticed bruises on Zoe.
"The first time I asked her, she said she fell down the stairs," Simonetti said. "The second time, she started crying and said Lamar had been hitting her."
Simonetti said she took a day off to report the abuse but never heard back.
Gloria Romansik, an administrator with Weld County Social Services, said today she could not comment on the case.
The mother, who has since moved out of the house, could not be reached. The owner of the bar, Jairo Landeros, said the mother still worked there but wouldn't be back until New Years Eve.
Landeros is the father of Nikko Landeros, the Berthoud wrestler who lost his legs in an automobile accident. Landeros bought the Corral Bar earlier this year, after a fundraiser for Nikko was held there.
Neighbors describe the Trujillo family, who moved into the quiet, working-class neighborhood last April as "combative."
"They didn't fit in," said next-door neighbor, Laura Valdivieso. "They were noisy and disruptive."
She said Zoe was "a beautiful little girl, she made friends with everybody. I gave her a jumprope, which she used almost every single day."
John Valdivieso said Zoe once asked him for some bread, which he understood to mean she was looking for food to eat. He gave her half a loaf.
"When the police came to tell us she had died, my wife took it very hard. She started crying," he said. "Zoe helped me dig out some dandelions last summer. She was very sweet."
- The Denver Post