In Texas, Elizabeth Arellano and Sergio Barcenas, Jr. are criminally charged for the death of their 21 month-old son, Christopher Barcenas.

On May 29, 2008, Christopher Barcenas was taken to Georgetown Hospital for symptoms related to his fractured skull. Allegedly, Ms. Arellano said her son Christopher was choking on food when she brought him to the hospital. From Georgetown Hospital, Christopher was airlifted to Dell Children’s Hospital and treated for a skull fracture and swelling and retinal hemorrhage. Providers at Dell Children’s Hospital stated the injuries are consistent with blunt-force trauma and shaking.  

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services are currently investigating the matter. Barcenas and Arellano have been involved with family services in the past. In 2006, protective services removed their children from their home due to violence, physical and medical neglect. As a result of Christopher’s death, the other children have been removed from the home again. According to news stories, Christopher’s twin brother had suspicious injuries at the time of Christopher’s death.    

While women are more likely to be the abusers, men abuse more severely. Children under the age of three years old are the most likely victims of abuse, because the toddler stage is a very trying time for parents. Parents with unrealistic expectations and poor coping skills are most at risk for engaging in abusive behavior. Physical abuse is the most overt form of abuse.

Look for signs that the caregiver or parent delayed in seeking help for an injury or potential injury. Have a high-index of suspicion for an individual providing an inconsistent history about the mechanism of injury. Suspect intentional injury when the injury is inconsistent with the child’s developmental capabilities. Suspect abuse when fractures are present at varying degrees of healing stages. Look for bruises to the back of the body. Be suspicious if there are bald spots or broken hair on the scalp. Visualize the pattern of an injury to see if it resembles a belt, belt buckle, cigarette burn or scald injury from submersion in hot water. Suspect sexual abuse with trauma or infection of the perineal area.     



Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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