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HCSO: Couple arrested in death of 1-year-old child

Mercy Morales, 22, and the mother’s boyfriend, Victor Almanza, 18, were both charged with injury to a child. (Harris County Sheriff's Office)

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – A couple was arrested for suspected child abuse after a 1-year-old died at a hospital Friday, according to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.

The child, Fernanda Morales, suffered multiple blunt force injuries, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a tweet.

Her mother, Mercy Morales, 22, and the mother’s boyfriend, Victor Almanza, 18, brought the child to Signature Care Emergency Center at approximately 11 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. Morales and Almanza claimed the child fell from her rocking horse and became lethargic. Medical personnel at the emergency center determined the child suffered multiple blunt force injuries, not consistent with “falling off a rocking horse”.

Morales was transferred via Life Flight to the Texas Children’s Hospital in the Texas Medical Center for specialized care. The child died of her injuries early Friday.

Morales and Almanza told HCSO homicide investigators they were the sole care takers for the child and that the only injuries she sustained, while in their care, was when she fell off her rocking horse.

Both were arrested later that day.

An autopsy confirmed that the severity of the child’s injuries were not consistent with ‘falling off a rocking horse,” authorities said.

Morales and Almanza both face a charge of Injury to a Child and were placed in the Harris County Jail.

Investigations by the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office are ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding the death of Morales is urged to contact the HCSO Homicide Unit at (713) 274-9100.

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed Victor Almanza as the child’s father.


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