Opening statements begin in child abuse expected

5:16 PM, May 28, 2013   |    comments
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BRIGHTON - Opening statements in case against a grandmother who allegedly forced her 4-year-old grandson to stand naked in the cold as punishment for long enough to kill him, are expected to begin Wednesday morning.

Gabriel Trujillo died Feb. 17, 2012 in Commerce City.

When emergency crews were called to Doris Becky Trujillo's Commerce City home, hours after he was put in the cold, emergency crews found little boy unresponsive.

His body temperature was about 89 degrees.

Trujillo told police that Gabriel had fallen off a chair and hit his head.

Medical professionals at Children's Hospital Colorado in Aurora, where Gabriel was taken, reported that he had "catastrophic head injuries," including "evidence of old cranial bleeding," according to an Adams County court document that was used to justify holding Trujillo in jail without bail.

Gabriel, who had been placed in Trujillo's care by the Adams County Department of Social Services, appeared malnourished. He had multiple contusions and hypothermia.

He died three days later from blunt-force injuries to his head and neck.

His grandmother, Trujillo, was arrested and has since pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child abuse causing death.

Lana Roberts, Trujillo's roommate at the time of Gabriel's death, also pleaded not guilty to child abuse causing death and is awaiting trial.

During the months before Gabriel's death, his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Trujillo, said she and her family became concerned about the boy when she saw photos of him with large bruises.

In January of 2012, one month before Gabriel died, medical professionals could not determine whether the bruises, scrapes and a fracture on his body were caused by accident or a result of abuse.

Police records show Commerce City police officers went to Gabriel's home on Feb. 7, 2012.

When Elizabeth Trujillo called the next day, officers told her that they would not return to the home because everything appeared fine, she told The Denver Post in February.

Police records show that caseworkers investigated reports of abuse of Gabriel twice and received four additional reports that something appeared wrong. At least one of those reports was not assigned to a caseworker for investigation.

The Colorado Department of Human Services has not released a review of caseworkers' decisions in handling Gabriel's case.

Have a comment or tip for investigative reporter Jace Larson? Call him at 303-871-1432 or e-mail him

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