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California Mother’s Life Sentence for Hiding Son in Closet: A Tragic Tale of Abuse and Neglect

Veronica Aguilar, a California mother, was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Friday after pleading no contest to assault on a child causing death. The sentencing follows the discovery of her 11-year-old son, Yonatan Daniel Aguilar, dead in a closet in their Los Angeles home in August 2016.

Yonatan, weighing only 34 pounds at the time of his death, exhibited pressure sores typically seen in elderly nursing home patients. The Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed he died from the effects of multiple drugs, dehydration, and generalized neglect.

City News Service, Reports indicate that Yonatan had been kept in the closet for three years before his death, suffering from severe malnourishment. Authorities testified during a 2019 preliminary hearing that the boy appeared significantly younger than his actual age, describing him as “gaunt and frail-looking.”

In the Los Angeles Times, Child abuse pediatrics specialist Dr. Janet Arnold-Clark highlighted Yonatan’s prolonged malnourishment, stating he had been deprived of food for an extended period. Aguilar, during her recent sentencing, faced the acknowledgment of the court as Judge Larry Paul Fidler deemed the case “tragic,” emphasizing the boy’s likely experience of “terror and fear.”

Deputy District Attorney Alexander Bott noted that Aguilar’s plea reflected the gravity of the crime, underscoring the years of neglect and abuse that unjustly cut short the child’s life. During a 2019 hearing, Los Angeles Police Det. Sandra Platero revealed that Aguilar labeled her son as “pure evil,” medicating him to calm him down and forcing him to sleep in a closet.

The boy’s stepfather, previously unaware of the situation, discovered Yonatan’s death and called 911, thinking the child was living in Mexico with a family friend. The case underscores a heartbreaking tale of abuse, neglect, and tragic loss.

Paul joined the Manchester Evening News in 2004 and Tosbos in 2022. A senior reporter, he's experienced in crime and court reporting - and also holds the defense portfolio.


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