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GRAPHIC DETAILS: Testimony continues in Salinas torture and murder case

Accused child killer Gonzalo Curiel-s murder trial underway

SALINAS, Calif. - UPDATE 4/12/2018 5:30 p.m.: After a mid-week break, the jury trial against Gonzalo Curiel resumed Thursday. 

Jurors heard from investigators about the video and picture evidence retrieved from Curiel's cell phone. Investigators located video of three-year-old Delylah standing on a bed, facing a wall with her hands behind her back, appearing to be tied. 

Images were shown of Jane Doe sitting naked in bathroom of the apartment where the family stayed. There were also images of Curiel and then-girlfriend and co-conspirator Tami Huntsman kissing and playing in bed together.

UPDATE: 4/10/2018 1:03 p.m. Testimony continued in the murder trial against Gonzalo Curiel.

He and his former girlfriend, Tami Huntsman, are accused of killing two children under her care and abusing a third.

Tuesday we heard from four of Huntsman’s family members, including her children. The kids range in ages from 14 to 23.

Huntsman’s fraternal twins witnessed some of the abuse firsthand. Her son testified he saw both his mother and Gonzalo Curiel hit the children hard, altogether about 15 times. He said he remembers the kids getting bruises on their face, back, butt and legs.

He recalled one instance where Curiel hit Shaun and the little boy yelled at him to stop and said Shaun was crying.

Another incident — Jane Doe, the surviving victim, was punished for wetting herself.

Huntsman’s son said he saw her hands were tied up once as well and she apparently said Curiel did it.

He said he knew the kids were kept in the bathroom, because if he had to use the restroom, the kids would be walked out so he could use it. He told jurors the kids never did anything that he thought deserved punishment. He also recounted the kids sneaking food like bagels and fruit bars from the kitchen.

We also heard from Huntsman’s eldest son, who brought Curiel into the home. He said it started out as him coming over to hang out, then he eventually moved in. He, as well as Huntsman’s 23-year-old daughter, took issue with the fact Huntsman and Curiel were starting a relationship.

The kids also recounted happier times when Huntsman was still married to the kids’ father. They talked about how she was a good mom and they would spend a lot of time visiting relatives or going to Great America every weekend.

There will not be court on Wednesday. Testimony will resume on Thursday.

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The murder trial against Gonzalo Curiel is underway.  He and his former girlfriend Tami Huntsman are accused of abusing three children, two of them later died from their injuries.

Lawyers on both sides painted very different pictures of Gonzalo Curiel the man accused of abusing and killing two children, Shaun and Delilah Tara and abusing their older sister who were under the care of his then girlfriend Tami Huntsman.

We also heard from some of the first witnesses in the case — family members and school staff who knew the children.

Prosecutors spent more than an hour laying out what led up to the deaths of 3-year-old Delylah and 6-year-old Shaun Tara and the abuse of their older sister. The children’s mother died in a car crash and they were brought to Salinas before their father went to jail.

Prosecutor Steve Somers said things went downhill after Gonzalo Curiel moved in with the family and Tami Huntsman’s husband left.   

We also learned the kids were starved, sometimes just fed a piece of fruit every day and were kept locked in a bathroom and beaten.

During opening statements, Curiel sat quietly next to his attorney Arthur Dudley. Dudley told the jurors that the facts will prevail through various witnesses.

“Very briefly when the case is put on in full when you hear all the facts and examination, yes these kids died, Jane Doe suffered those injuries. The issue in this case, is if my client was responsible, listen to the facts as they come out in cross examination, it will show the person primary responsible for all of the injuries is Tami Huntsman,” said Dudley.

The prosecution also called their first witnesses, people who knew the children personally and testified about the physical deterioration over a span of months.

Their paternal grandmother talked about the kids and the death of the children’s mother. She said she would send gifts on their birthdays and holidays. She said she even baby sat Huntsman when she was a child but hadn't seen her for many years. Huntsman had called the children's grandmother asking her for money which she said she never sent. 

School teachers who taught the victims in Salinas as well as a school nurse talked about how the children were losing weight and wore the same clothes to school every day, were dirty and had lice.

Several of the school staff bought the kids clothing with their own money but testified they never saw the children wear the clothes. They talked about how they went from only missing a few days of school one year to 17 absences in another.

One of the teachers said she met Tami Huntsman several times at Jane doe's parent teacher conferences.  She said Huntsman seemed interested in the children and willing to take them in and excited to care for them. 

Another woman said she was Shaun Tara's 1st grade teacher. She explained that he would sleep with his sister at recess. He came to school emotional and wanted hugs. She said her gut told her something was wrong but the child never expressed what kind of a nightmare he was living in. 

The trial is expected to last more than five weeks. Curiel’s codefendant Tami Huntsman has pleaded guilty for her roles in the crimes. She will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole later this month.

KION's Mariana Hicks has the full story on News Channel 5,46 at 5 and 6 p.m.

 

 


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