What is a Silent Witness and how do you become one?
A mother and her boyfriend arrested in connection with the death of the woman’s 10-year-old son told police conflicting stories about what happened just before authorities found the badly injured boy, according to a court document obtained by The Arizona Republic.
Julianna Moreno, the mother of Christian Pearson, initially told Chino Valley police that she found her son lying unconscious on the floor in his bedroom, according to a probable cause statement submitted to Yavapai County Superior Court by police.
Moreno told officers she then dragged the boy to the living room before initiating CPR and calling 911, the document says. She told police her boyfriend, Daniel Terry, wasn’t home because he was picking up medicine from a pharmacy, the record says.
When police located Terry parked behind a neighbor’s house, he told them that he had dragged the boy out of his room and attempted to save him while waiting for Moreno to come home, the document says. He said he left the house because he felt traumatized.
Police said the boy later died from multiple skull fractures and a serious burn inflicted on him when he was pressed against a heater.
Police took Terry into custody after noticing the inconsistencies in the stories, according to the court document.
Moreno then changed her story and told police she had gone to a marijuana dispensary and when she came home, Terry was on the porch waving at her, the record says.
Moreno told police she ran inside the house and performed CPR while Terry left the house because he “didn’t want to lose his daughter from CPS,” according to the court document.
Moreno told police in a later interview that she saw Terry tie Christian’s hands behind his back with an ACE bandage to “show him what it felt like to be in prison.” She also said Terry turned on the heater to punish him for misbehaving, the court document says.
Responding officers saw a large burn along the boy’s lower abdomen that appeared to be recent, according to the document.
He was rushed to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where he later died of “extreme injuries including multiple 3rd-degree burns, skull fractures, traumatic brain injuries and various cuts and contusions,” according to the probable cause statement.
Moreno and Terry are facing the following charges: one count of first-degree murder; two counts of abuse or neglect of a minor; eight counts of aggravated assault; and two counts of endangerment.
Chino Valley residents are hosting a candlelight vigil to remember Christian this Saturday from 7 to 9 p.m. at Memory Park.
Christy Cowand, one of the organizers, did not know him but felt compelled to help.
“We thought it would be important for the community to come together… this is such a devastating thing for everyone, whether we knew him or not,” Cowand said.
Cowand said there will be live music, a pastor who will lead a prayer and several speakers who knew Christian. She said people will be able to share stories at an open microphone.
“I’m a mother of three, so it’s really close to home thinking of a child being hurt in the way that he was,” Cowand said.
Naomi Barnett, another one of the organizers, said her 9-year-old son was close friends with Christian. She said Christian and her son would frequently ride their bikes together after school.
“He was a very dear friend of my son and, honestly, probably the favorite of my son’s friends. They’re all nice, but Christian was particularly considerate. He was a very considerate, kind boy,” Barnett said.
Barnett said after she received the news of the boy’s death she was stricken with grief. She said the family was going to have a private funeral and she felt she had to do something so the community could come out and say goodbye.
“I don’t want this to be a headline today and gone tomorrow. He deserves to be remembered and so I had thought ‘oh, maybe a candlelight vigil,'” she said.
“His life was cut far too short and I just want people to remember him,” she said.
Barnett said she hopes this vigil will help her son and others find closure.
“If anybody knows or suspects something with a child don’t hesitate to report it. Just break that silence,” Barnett said.
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