LANCASTER (CBSLA) — The parents of a 4-year-old Palmdale boy who died last July pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and torture charges related to his death.

Jose Maria Cuatro Jr., 28, and Ursula Elaine Juarez, 25, were charged with one count each of murder and torture last September. Cuatro was also charged with one count of assault on a child causing death, and Juarez was charged with child abuse resulting in death.

The pair, arrested Sept. 26 by Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives, reported that Noah had drowned in a swimming pool at the family’s home in the 1200 block of East Avenue South around 4 p.m. July 4, but the child’s injuries were not consistent with a drowning.

RELATED: Report: Removing Noah Cuatro From Parents’ Home In May Would Have Been ‘Premature’

Sheriff Alex Villanueva launched an investigation into the child’s death, and said that his three siblings had been taken into protective custody.

The boy’s death raised questions about the actions of county social workers who interacted with the family — the source of a multi-million dollar claim filed by the child’s great-grandmother.

Cuatro and Jaurez are scheduled to be back in court April 7. If convicted as charged, they could each face up to 32 years to life in state prison.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)


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