August 10, 2008

Girl beaten, forced to drink urine

By Sara Foley
The Daily News
Published August 10, 2008

LA MARQUE — He beat her, forced her to drink her brother’s urine and eat a cockroach blended into a glass of milk.

He made her sleep in a closet, locked the refrigerator so she couldn’t eat and put feces in her mouth.

It was the worst case of child abuse La Marque detective Sgt. Geoff Price had ever seen.

But, Fabian Orellana, who admitted to police that he abused a 13-year-old relative, will spend a maximum of only three years in prison

Orellana, 34, pleaded guilty to felony charges stemming from the case. He will have to serve at least two years before he’s eligible for release from prison.

Once he is released, immigration officials will deport him back to El Salvador.

A teacher uncovered the girl’s twisted tale of torture when she intercepted a note the girl passed to a friend in class.

In it, she begged for help and described the beating the day before.

“I hate my life, please help me. I am going crazy right now,” the note said.

The teachers called Child Protective Services, who removed the girl and her two siblings from the house.

Reasons for the abuse aren’t understandable, Price said.

The girl told police she did all the chores at the house, including washing clothes with an old-fashioned scrubbing board, and got beaten if she didn’t finish all her work.

Most of the girl’s bruises — even one Price said was the size of a basketball on her hip — were hidden under the long-sleeved shirts and long skirts she wore to school.

If she hadn’t passed the note, the abuse would have likely continued and grown more severe, Price said.

“We got her away from him before it got worse,” he said. “She’ll live with this for the rest of her life, but we got her away from him.”

Prosecutors said they agreed to the 3-year sentence because it was the only guarantee Orellana would actually get prison time.

Orellana was indicted on four counts of injury to a child, but the maximum punishment he could have received was 10 years, Assistant District Attorney Kayla Allen said.

Because he’s never had any felony convictions, a jury could have just given him probation, Allen said.

“The thing I don’t want is for this to go to trial and a jury to give him probation,” Allen said. “Here was a guaranteed prison sentence.”

District Attorney Kurt Sistrunk defended the plea agreement, which ordered Orellana’s deportation and forced the girl’s mother to relinquish her parental rights.

“(The settlement) gave those children a sense of security that could not be guaranteed if they had to sit across from him in the courtroom and testify before a jury,” Sistrunk said. “They are safe. He is out of their life.”

Some of the gruesome details that came out during the investigation — such as the forced ingestion of urine and the cockroach — were “revolting and abhorrent” but only grounds for a lighter, state jail charge, Sistrunk said.

Instead, prosecutors pursued the charge that could give him the most time in prison.

“The kids are scared to death of him,” Allen said. “They’re very, very frightened to even be in court with him. We wanted to avoid putting them through even more trauma.”

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Should the Texas State Legislature pass immigration enforcement laws in 2009?