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Videos, details of extreme abuse preceding Meridian boy’s death shared in Idaho court

Idaho budget writers fund public defense reform
Posted at 8:27 AM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 10:27:31-04

This article was written by Jacob Scholl of the Idaho Statesman.

Editor’s Note: This story contains descriptions of child abuse.

A 9-year-old Idaho boy was repeatedly beaten and tortured before his death in early September, investigators and prosecutors said Wednesday in court, while presenting evidence and showing glimpses of what he endured.

Monique and Erik Osuna, residents of Meridian, appeared for a preliminary hearing before Magistrate Judge Daniel Steckel. He ultimately ruled to bind over the charges against both Osunas, meaning the murder case will move forward.

Both Osunas are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Erik’s biological son, Emrik Osuna, on Sept. 2, 2020. Erik Osuna is also charged with felony counts of altering, concealing or destruction of evidence; inflicting bodily injury; and injury to a child.

Emrik Osuna did not have a pulse and was not breathing when first responders arrived at the couple’s Meridian apartment on Sept. 1, though he later regained a pulse and was taken to the St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center, according to witness testimony. He was transferred to St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Boise, where he was pronounced dead at around 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 2.

Among those who testified Wednesday were an Ada County paramedic, a co-worker of Monique Osuna’s and four members of the Meridian Police Department.

The co-worker, who identified herself in court as Hannah Berry, said she talked with Monique about the child’s behavior, and Berry suggested getting security cameras, or “nanny cameras,” in the home to document this reported behavior.

Berry said she received a text at around 5 p.m. on Sept. 1 from Monique saying that something was wrong with Emrik. She testified that she arrived at the apartment at around 8:30 p.m., and said 911 was called when the child was not responsive. The child’s hand was cold to the touch, she said, and before first responders arrived, Erik Osuna handed her a bundle of the nanny cams from inside the home and asked her to hide them.

Berry testified that she went back to her car several hours later and remembered the cameras were there; she then turned them over to police. She said panic caused her to forget about the cameras while initially talking with officers.

“I was still in shock,” Berry told the court.

Several videos captured on the cameras were shown in court Wednesday, and they depicted repeated abuse. The 9-year-old was forced to do physical exercises for hours in a row, including wall-sits, jumping jacks and other things.

One video showed Emrik performing a wall-sit while Monique Osuna stood over him, yelling profanities and threatening to beat the child. Another video depicted Emrik doing a physical exercise in the kitchen before Erik Osuna appeared to hit the child with a belt in the back of the head.

Another video showed Emrik asleep on the floor of the living room — without a pillow or blankets — only to be awakened by Monique, who appeared to grab him by the hair, pull him off the ground and force him into the kitchen. She then demanded that he start doing jumping jacks.

According to testimony from Meridian Police Detective Matthew Ferronato, Monique Osuna was reportedly mad at the boy for drinking a glass of water meant for someone else. When he asked to use the bathroom, Monique Osuna said he could not.

“Next time I’ll put poison in a cup and put your name on it,” Monique Osuna was heard telling the child.

During a 12-minute video played in court, Emrik was shown doing an exercise in the kitchen. He paused and moved toward the garbage can, and moments later a woman said to be Monique was seen entering the room, at which time she kicked the child before hitting him in the head several times. Another video showed the child being hit with a frying pan while he stood on one leg with his hands above his head.

The child appears severely malnourished in the video clips, his ribs protruding from his body.

Monique Osuna became emotional while the videos played. Erik Osuna hung his head for much of their duration.

After the child was rushed to the hospital on Sept. 1, Meridian Police Detective Eric Stoffle interviewed Erik, who allegedly admitted to police that Emrik was abused repeatedly. Stoffle, who testified in court Wednesday, said he was told by the father that Emrik was hit with a dog leash and frying pan in the weeks leading up to his death.

At the completion of the interview, Stoffle said he notified Erik that his son had died.

“He said he had failed as a parent,” Stoffle testified.

Autopsy photos shown in court depicted multiple bruises on the child’s face and head, along with extensive bruising on his back and legs. In separate interviews, investigators said they asked Monique and Erik Osuna whether they believed Emrik was tortured, and both said what happened qualified as torture.

MPD’s Scott Frazier was one of two officers who first arrived at the scene, and he testified that the boy was on the floor of the apartment, not breathing and without a pulse. He and another officer started CPR until paramedics arrived. Frazier told the court that Emrik looked sickly, as if he suffered from a medical condition.

“He was very emaciated, looked ill,” Frazier said.

Frazier said he later observed substantial bruising on the lower half of the child’s body.

Detective Joseph Miller spoke with Monique Osuna after the child went to the hospital. Miller said that the conversation lasted around five hours and that she admitted to repeatedly beating the child. The detective said she told him that she forced Emrik to do exercises for hours on end to “discipline” him.

Monique Osuna allegedly told Miller that she hit Emrik fewer than 10 times the day before he died. According to Miller, Monique took responsibility for much of the abuse, including the exercises that lasted for hours. However, Stoffle told the court that Emrik also would perform exercises while Monique was away and Erik was home.

Monique Osuna was arrested at the conclusion of her conversation with Miller.

Miller said he did not read Monique her Miranda rights prior to their lengthy conversation, but she was read her rights before a subsequent interview at the Ada County Jail, and then told a similar story of abuse to investigators.

Three other children lived in the Osunas’ home, including an infant, but police said they did not appear to be abused.

After hearing hours of testimony at the hearing, which stretched past 6 p.m. after starting at 8:30 a.m., Steckel ruled to advance the case.

If convicted, the Osunas could face the death sentence or life in prison. Both are in the custody of the Ada County Jail, where they are being held on $2 million bonds. Their next court hearing is scheduled for April 26; trial dates have yet to be scheduled.