EXCLUSIVE: Boyfriend charged in connection with 5-year-old's death speaks to KPRC behind bars

'I never hurt the little girl,' Esparza says

HOUSTON – Santiago Esparza broke his silence to KPRC for the first time since his arrest hoping to get his side of the story out.

Esparza was emotional in a jail cell Saturday afternoon. He teared up as he pounded on his chest while insisting he was innocent. 

“I never hurt the little girl," Esparza said. 

Esparza turned himself in Friday after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with the death of 5-year-old Sierra Patino, who was found wrapped up in a blanket in a closet inside his apartment on Labor Day. 

On Saturday morning, he made his first court appearance, where he was charged with tampering with evidence, namely a human corpse. 

Sierra's mother, Priscilla Torres was also arrested earlier this week and faces the same charge.

READ: Mother of 5-year-old girl found dead in closet arrested, police say

Initially, Torres told police that she was giving her daughter a bath and that there was a bottle of toilet cleaner within reach of the child. Torres said she then left to make dinner and said when she returned that bottle was empty and floating in the bathwater, leaving burns on her daughter's face. Torres said she feared Child Protective Services would take her daughter away, so she didn't take her to the hospital.

Then, Torres changed her story and told police Esparza bathed her daughter and she discovered bruises and burns on her forehead after he gave her the bath.

During a jailhouse interview, Esparza told KPRC Torres isn't being truthful. 

Esparza said the burns were on the child's face for a while. 

“She had burns marks on her face days before she died,” Esparza said. 

Esparza said that he insisted Torres take the child to the hospital but Torres refused in fear of CPS taking her daughter away. 

He said he was at work at the time of the death and that Torres was staying with him at the time. When he returned to his apartment, he said Torres was frantic and showed him where she placed her daughter's lifeless body.

Esparza admitted to KPRC that he should have called the police right away once Torres showed him the body, but he says he didn't know what to do at the time. 

Esparza said Torres told him she wanted to get rid of the body. 

“She wanted to cut the body up, but I said, 'No way,'” Esparza said.

Esparza denied he ever gave Sierra a bath or hurt her. 

“I would never hurt the little girl. I have young kids of my own,” Esparza said.