Mother starved boy, hid him in closet for years before his death: stepfather
KTLA
Yonatan Daniel Aguilar is seen in a family photo album shown at his public memorial on Sept. 14, 2016 in Echo Park.

via LA Times/KTLA

LOS ANGELES (LAT/KTLA) -- The stepfather of a young boy whose emaciated body was found inside the closet of an Echo Park home testified Wednesday that he thought the boy had been sent to Mexico by his mother, who is charged with murder in his death.

In a preliminary hearing, Jose Pinzon said Veronica Aguilar told him she had sent her youngest son, Yonatan, south of the border for treatment for special needs. Pinzon said Aguilar was in the U.S. illegally and felt helpless in caring for Yonatan, a special education student with a learning disability. Aguilar has pleaded not guilty.

But prosecutors painted a very different picture, saying Aguilar locked Yonatan in a closet, sedated him with liquid sleeping aids and starved him to the point that the 11-year-old weighed only 34 pounds when police found his body in August 2016.

MORE: Echo Park mother starved boy, hid him in closet for years before his death: stepfather - Los Angeles Times / KTLA

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