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  1. #1
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    Chris Cheary Charged in 2011 CA Slaying of Sophia Acosta, Potential Death Penalty Case

    Chris Cheary to Appear in Court Monday

    The man charged with killing three-year-old Sophia Acosta is scheduled to be arraigned Monday afternoon.

    20-year-old Chris Cheary, who is the boyfriend of Sophia's mother, was arrested Thursday night in Stanislaus County.

    Investigators say Cheary has been booked on murder, sexual assault and torture charges and is being held without bail.

    Sophia's mother, Erika Smith, is still a person of interest in this case, detectives said.

    If convicted, Cheary could face the death penalty.

    On May 7th, Exeter Police found Sophia unconscious in an apartment. Four days later, she passed away at Children's Hospital Central California.

    The Tulare County Coroner's Office says Sophia died from major injuries to the head.

    A Facebook page has been created in memory of Sophia. You can click here to be redirected to that page.

    http://www.kmph.com/story/14846690/c...n-court-monday

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  3. #3
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    Skirmish delays Cheary hearing

    Two deputies and at least one inmate were injured in an altercation at Tulare County's Main Jail on Thursday morning, causing a delay in a hearing for the Exeter man accused of killing a toddler last month.

    Christopher Cheary and three other inmates were involved in a fight while being transported from the Main Jail to the Tulare County Courthouse via an underground tunnel.

    At least three deputies stepped in to stop the fight, resulting in injuries to the hands and arms of two deputies. At least one inmate was also injured.

    Deputies did not reveal if Cheary was injured. They also did not describe his involvement.

    "This matter is still under investigation and, as we interview witnesses and those involved, we don't want to influence their answers," Sgt. Chris Douglass said. "Inmate altercations are rare and we need to take time to investigate this thoroughly."

    Because two courtroom deputies were involved and treated medically, the Tulare County Sheriff's Department asked that a court hearing for Cheary be delayed. The Department 11 courtroom, presided over by Judge Gary Paden, was closed.

    "It was a security issue and we wanted to take precautions to ensure a safe courtroom," Douglass said.

    Cheary's hearing to set a date for a preliminary hearing was rescheduled for July 1, said Shani Jenkins, an assistant district attorney.

    Cheary is charged with the first-degree murder of Sophia Acosta, 3. A special circumstance that the death was caused during sodomy, a special circumstance of lewd acts on a child and a special circumstance that Cheary tortured the toddler were also added.

    If found true in court, the special circumstances would enhance any prison sentence. He is also charged with child abuse, sodomizing a child and forcible lewd acts on a minor.

    Sophia died May 11 at Children's Hospital Central California from blunt-force trauma to her head, according to a Tulare County Sheriff's Department coroner autopsy report. Exeter police found the toddler on an apartment floor May 7.

    Cheary was arrested in Turlock on June 2. He was in the area because he has family and friends in Stanislaus County, Exeter Police Chief Cliff Bush said.

    Cheary may face the death penalty, but that won't be decided until after a preliminary hearing, Jenkins said.

    http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/art...Cheary-hearing

  4. #4
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    Family remembers Sophia Acosta on her fourth birthday

    Family and friends of a toddler killed in may gathered to honor her life.

    A father's message scribbled on a pink balloon to his little girl, "Daddy loves you, always and forever."

    Nearly nine months since his daughter was killed, Obie Acosta can't believe he won't get to hug his daughter on her birthday. "I feel lost right now, it's supposed to be a happy day but it's not and, you're supposed to spend time with your kids and everything."

    On Sunday, Sophia Acosta's family gathered in Exeter to remember the little girl with a moment of silence and bright balloons. "Just her smile, her smile, she was so energetic, she was the sweetest little girl anybody could ever meet," said Sophia's aunt, Ashley Acosta.

    On May seventh, at an Exeter apartment, police found Sophia severely injured and not breathing. She died four days later.

    Her mother's live in boyfriend, Christopher Cheary is facing murder and sexual assault charges. The charges include several special circumstances -- including torture, which could have Cheary facing the death penalty, if convicted.

    But her family says Sophia's mother, Erika Smith should be prosecuted for child neglect. Smith did not attend the event.

    "She knew it was ongoing, she admitted to knowing about the drug usage, about the domestic violence going on between them. There is police reports of her admitting that so I don't see how they have not arrested her yet," said Ashley Acosta.

    On Sunday, they let go of the balloons for Sophia, knowing the memories would remain.

    http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?se...cal&id=8532982

  5. #5
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    Dr. calls girl’s death ‘worst case I’ve ever seen'


    The first witness testified earlier this month in what Exeter Police have called the worst crime in the City’s history.

    Only one witness was called to the stand during the April 5 preliminary hearing of Christopher Rey Cheary, the man accused of raping and killing his live-in girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter. The witness, Dr. Phillip Hyden of Children’s Hospital Central California, shared the police department’s sentiment during redirect with Deputy District Attorney David Alavezos.

    “… I imagine you’ve seen an extensive number of child abuse cases,” Alavezos asked.

    “I have,” Hyden replied.

    “In relative severity, where does this particular case range?,” Alavezos continued.

    “This is one of the worst cases I’ve seen in my career.”

    It was a telling statement as Hyden’s career has centered around child abuse and child protection for more than 25 years. Hyden told the court he had 32 months of training to be an expert of child abuse pediatrics at the National Center for Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect in Denver. From 1987-1995 Hyden was director of the child protection team at New York Hospital, Assistant professor of the Violence Intervention Program at USC from 1997-2008 and was the medical director of the Child Abuse Program for the entire state of Hawaii from 2008-2010. Hyden became Medical Director of Child Abuse and Prevention Program at Children’s Hospital Central California in May 2010. In all, Hyden has testified as an expert witness in at least 12 different counties in four states.

    “I am called on every suspected case of child abuse and neglect or neglect in the hospital, in the ER, in the Intensive Care Unit and on the Pediatrics Ward,” Hyden testified. “We also are referred cases for medical clearance for suspected abuse or children going into foster care from the outlying county areas, which we serve a ten county area including this one, Tulare.”

    On May 7, 2011 just before 4 p.m., Exeter Police Department and medical personnel were dispatched to the 800 block of West Visalia Road for a juvenile not breathing. Upon arrival officers were led to Sophia whom was lifeless on the floor. Medical personnel attempted to revive her and then transported her to Kaweah Delta Hospital. She was later airlifted to Children’s Hospital Central California where she remained in critical condition on life support.

    Hyden said he spoke to Sophia’s mother, Erica Smith, who told him that Sophia had fallen down a stairway “two days ago” and fell onto a plastic toy shopping cart “today,” referring to the day she was taken to the hospital. Hyden said Sophia was supposedly injured around 4 p.m. on May 7 and he examined her between midnight and 2 a.m. on May 8.

    Hyden said after her arrival at Children’s Hospital, Sophia was completely unresponsive and “being kept alive by the ventilator” when he examined her. She was bleeding from her mouth and private regions from “not an accidental trauma.”

    “That means that these injuries weren’t self-inflicted by the child or caused by any type of normal childhood accident,” Hyden explained.

    In addition to the bleeding, Hyden said Sophia’s brain showed a lack of oxygen and blood flow consistent with “shaking plus impact” and had bruises on her scalp and underneath her scalp and abdomen. Hyden said a urine test showed signs of marijuana in her system.

    Hyden said, “I believe this child was sexually assaulted. I believe this child was struck in the abdomen. I can’t tell you if it was one or two times because the injuries are in different places but it probably was two times. And also was subjected to severe accelerated forces and an impact and maybe multiple impacts because of the different planes of injury on the head from someone exerted a tremendous violent force on this child and in a repetitive manner ultimately causing her death.”

    During cross examination, Deputy Public Defender Bill Meuting pointed out there were no signs of DNA enzymes found during the rape kit conducted by Dr. Hyden. However, Hyden said that would not rule out sexual abuse for various reasons. Meuting also asked Hyden if the bruising on her abdomen could have been caused by an untrained person attempting CPR.

    “This is a blunt impact,” Hyden said. “It’s not due to compression.”

    During Alavezos’ recross examination, he asked Hyden if there was anything to indicate a history of violence. Hyden said during his conversation with Sophia’s mother at Children’s Hospital, Smith admitted there was a history of domestic violence but said Cheary had never harmed Sophia. However, we asked about their sexual relationship, Hyden said Smith revealed that she thought Cheary “could have done this to the child.”

    “She also said that if he did do this, she never wanted him to be around the kid again and never wanted to see him again,” Hyden continued.

    While Smith has not been charged with a crime, Judge Gary Paden informed conflict counsel that she will need an attorney.

    “I told him I want a lawyer assigned to represent Erica Smith if and when she ever shows up in this matter,” the judge said.

    Cheary, 20, of Exeter was living with Smith and her two children, Sophia and then 16-month-old Alexa, at the apartment in Exeter where police found Sophia unconscious on the floor. Cheary was arrested on June 2 in Turlock, Calif. An autopsy later revealed Acosta died of blunt force trauma.

    He is being charged with one count of murder with special circumstances for sodomy, torture and lewd and lascivious acts; one count of assault of a child causing death; one count of sodomy and one count of forcible lewd acts on a child, each with three special allegations for sodomy, inflicting torture and causing great bodily harm to a child under 14. The murder charge makes Cheary eligible for the death penalty.

    Cheary pleaded not guilty to all counts at an arraignment on June 6. Cheary will return to court on June 16 to set a date for a preliminary hearing. Cheary is being held at the Bob Wiley Detention Facility without bail. Cheary’s preliminary hearing will continue on July 5 and 6 at 8:30 a.m. in Department 11 of Tulare County Superior Court.


    http://www.thesungazette.com/article...ews/news01.txt
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  6. #6
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    Cheary Ordered to Stand Trial

    A young Exeter man will face trial for the alleged murder and sexual assault of his girlfriend's 3 year old daughter.

    A judge ruled Tuesday that there is enough evidence against 21 year old Chris Cheary to put him on trial for the brutal 2011 death of Sophia Acosta.

    Cheary could face the death penalty if convicted on all counts.

    http://www.kmjnow.com/pages/landing?...797&feedID=806
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