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Arraignment postponed for father accused of fatally stabbing three sons

Arraignment postponed for father accused of fatally stabbing three sons
Luis Fuentes, the father who is accused of killing his three sons in a car in South Los Angeles, makes a brief appearance in L.A. Superior Court on Wednesday morning. His arraignment was postponeduntil Oct. 7, with no bail. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

A teary-eyed father accused of fatally stabbing his three sons asked for forgiveness Wednesday in an emotional courtroom hearing, where his arraignment was postponed.

As Luis Fuentes was brought into the Los Angeles County Superior courtroom in a wheelchair, he addressed two unidentified women inside.

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"Perdoname," he said. "Forgive me."

Fuentes cried for most of the hearing, which lasted less than an hour, and kept his head bowed.

His arraignment was postponed until Oct. 7 and he is being held without bail.

The children, Luis Fuentes, 10; Juan Daniel Fuentes, 9; and Alexander Fuentes, 8, were found the morning of Sept. 9 in the backseat of a silver SUV in the 300 block of East 32nd Street.

Their father was found in the front seat, seriously wounded. Police believe he stabbed himself with a kitchen knife.

Fuentes was charged Tuesday with three counts of murder with an allegation of multiple murders. If convicted as charged, he could face the death penalty.

The 33-year-old looked to be in pain throughout the hearing, taking deep breaths and grimacing. Occasionally, he would put his hand over his face and appeared to wipe his eyes.

The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services last week launched an investigation into whether social workers had adequately probed several allegations that the boys were at risk and whether staff responded appropriately to what they learned.

The department's involvement with the family started in March 2010, when someone called the county's child abuse hotline to report that the boys were being physically abused, said two officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the case. Social workers were unable to prove or disprove the allegation and marked it inconclusive, the officials said.

Another hotline call alleging abuse came in September 2010. Social workers determined the allegation to be true, and lawyers for the department petitioned the juvenile court to open a case, officials said. The boys reportedly remained in the father's home until the case was closed about a year later.

Two more hotline calls alleging physical abuse came in April 2014, sources said. Social workers who investigated the allegations marked the claims "inconclusive" in October.

The department had no further contact following last year's hotline calls, despite at least one call to police about an argument in recent months. Investigators will analyze whether police shared that report with the child abuse hotline.

Times staff writers Nicole Santa Cruz and Garrett Therolf contributed to this report.

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