Baby Boy's Alleged Killer Is Ordered to Stand Trial

TIMES STAFF WRITER

An Oxnard man must stand trial on allegations that he starved and beat a 14-month-old boy to death, a Ventura County Superior Court judge ruled Monday.

Patrick Santillano, 32, is accused of murder, child abuse causing death, aggravated mayhem and false imprisonment in the Oct. 22 death of Demitri Robledo. The child died from a blow to the head while in the care of Santillano and his girlfriend, Teresa Rodriguez.

According to prosecutors and testimony at Monday's preliminary hearing, Rodriguez, Demitri's godmother, was caring for him while his mother served time on drug charges. Over those weeks, Rodriguez said, she watched her boyfriend smack the baby, deny him food, and gag and bind him if he cried while Santillano was trying to shoot up heroin.

Last month, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and general mayhem for failing to stop the attacks. She faces up to 12 years and four months in prison when she is sentenced Nov. 1.

Rodriguez, who has two children with Santillano, testified she never struck Demitri but did not intervene, either. Rodriguez also said she replaced a sock that had been stuffed into the toddler's mouth to muffle his crying when it fell out.

"That way, Pat wouldn't know it came out and the baby wouldn't get hit more," she said.

Prosecutors said Santillano and Rodriguez also hid the baby from his mother after she was released from custody, because they did not want her to see his condition. Rodriguez testified that she pretended to be out of town with the child.

Rodriguez became alarmed when she could not rouse the baby after a nap Oct. 22. Santillano told her to take Demitri out for fresh air, and she drove to a hamburger stand to buy the baby some fries, his favorite food.

But when Demitri wouldn't wake up to eat, Rodriguez drove him to St. John's Regional Medical Center. He was pronounced dead an hour later.

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