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Parents charged in death of 3-year-old Fontana girl; mother previously convicted of abusing her

Parents charged in death of 3-year-old Fontana girl; mother previously convicted of abusing her
Miriam Sandoval and Richard Rojo have been charged in the death of their 3-year-old daughter. (Fontana Police Department)

A Fontana woman previously convicted of child abuse has been charged in the death of her 3-year-old daughter, who died days after being taken to the hospital with injuries that authorities said stemmed from abuse.

Miriam Sandoval, 37, and the child’s father, Richard Rojo, 34, were arrested Feb. 27 after Fontana police responded to a medical aid call in the 9500 block of Madrona Avenue. When they arrived, officers found a 3-year-old girl who was not breathing, authorities said.

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The girl was taken to the hospital and died Sunday, Fontana police spokesman Jay Sayegh said.

It’s unclear how the girl died, but Sayegh said she had “significant visible body injuries.”

Sandoval previously was convicted of child abuse after the girl, as an infant, suffered broken bones, including a broken pelvis.

At the time of her arrest, Sandoval was booked on suspicion of attempted murder and held in lieu of $1-million bail. Rojo was arrested on suspicion of felony child endangerment and held in lieu of $50,000 bail. But on Monday, after the girl’s death, those charges were upgraded.

Sandoval was charged with abuse as well as assault on a child causing death, according to the San Bernardino district attorney’s office. She is now being held without bail.

Rojo was charged with three counts of child abuse.

Sayegh called the death “completely avoidable.” Fontana police investigated Sandoval when she was first charged with abuse in 2015. Her daughter was 3 months old at the time she suffered from injuries including a broken pelvis. Rojo was not a suspect in that case and was able to keep custody of the children, Sayegh said.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” Sayegh said, adding that the woman was put on probation after a plea deal. “This is a woman who should have never been around those kids again. It’s heartbreaking.”

Sandoval and Rojo have two other children: the dead girl’s twin sister and a boy about 6, Sayegh said. The children are now under the care of the county’s Children and Family Services Department, police said.

Authorities do not think Rojo participated in the abuse, but Sayegh said the man was negligent.

“The father took no actions to protect the children,” he said. “That’s his obligation.”

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