Suzanna Perez of Hacienda Heights has been ordered to trial in Pomona Superior Court on charges of beating her illiterate 14-year-old sister severely, underfeeding her and confining her in a garage.
Municipal Court Commissioner Ronald Gray gave the order after listening to testimony in a preliminary hearing, including that of 14-year-old Marta Martinez, who described through a translator abuse she allegedly suffered at her sister's hands.
"She hit me when I would get her angry," Marta testified in Spanish.
She described whippings with an electrical extension cord, the removal of a toenail with the sudden opening of a cabinet door and being locked in a garage overnight several times.
The girl appeared frightened and withdrawn, staring at the floor during most of her testimony and once bursting into tears. At the request of Deputy Dist. Atty. Patricia Shrader, Marta pulled back her hair and displayed a swollen and disfigured right ear, which Gray called a "classic case" of cauliflower ear.
Thrown Against Wall
Marta said her ear was injured when she was repeatedly thrown against a wall.
Shrader placed into evidence photos of Marta taken after Perez, 33, was arrested Feb. 14 at her home after complaints by neighbors. They showed layers of scar tissue on her back, red chapped hands and a black eye, which the girl said she got when Perez kicked her.
Under cross-questioning by Public Defender David Scyoc, the girl said she had attended eighth grade last year and passed her classes. But on the stand, she was unable to spell her name orally using Spanish or English pronunciation of letters. She wrote the name instead.
Marta seemed to confuse facts during her testimony, and Scyoc told the court it was unclear whether she meant to say the garage door had been locked when she was allegedly confined there and whether she had gone without food for more than one day at a time.
The girl said she came from Mexico to live with her sister when her mother died five years ago.
Gray said there was ample evidence to charge Perez with child endangerment, corporal punishment and assault and ordered arraignment before Judge Loren Miller on March 29. Perez is free on a $750,000 bond.