Antonio Cervantes and Kenisha Pruitt

Source: Toledoblade

An unnamed baby boy, at least 2 days old, was submerged in water, strangled, wrapped in a towel, and then put into a freezer inside an East Toledo home, officials said.

Lucas County Deputy Coroner Dr. Cynthia Beisser officially ruled the death a homicide Tuesday after results from DNA tests conclusively determined parentage.

The infant’s parents, Kenisha Pruitt, 20, and Antonio Cervantes, 18, are being held in the Lucas County jail.

Ms. Pruitt, of 2631 Scottwood Ave., is charged with aggravated murder, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.

Her trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 6; she is being held in lieu of $1.9 million bond.

Ms. Pruitt’s attorney, Mark Jacobs, said Tuesday he had no comment on the coroner’s ruling or the case.

Mr. Cervantes, of 5324 Rector Dr., is charged in Toledo Municipal Court with murder but has not been indicted in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. His bond is set at $1 million.

“I would expect that case to be going to the grand jury shortly,” said Jeff Lingo, chief of the criminal division for the Lucas County Prosecutor’s Office.

The baby was discovered April 13 in a freezer at 116 Paine Ave. when the property’s landlord was cleaning the house after the couple had moved out, authorities have said.

Dr. Beisser said the baby had water in his lungs and that it was impossible to determine how long he was submerged.

In the official ruling, Dr. Beisser said the cause of death was submersion in water and ligature strangulation.

Dr. Beisser declined to say with what the baby was strangled.

The Toledo police detective investigating the case, Larry Anderson, was not available for comment Tuesday evening.

Dr. Beisser said there was no bruising around the infant’s neck, but “in a baby, it doesn’t take much.

“There was evidence of ligature around the neck,” she said. “It wouldn’t have to be too tight, not like an adult.”

Dr. Beisser added that the infant appeared to have been carried to full term and was born healthy.

After reviewing the coroner’s findings on Tuesday, Dean Sparks, executive director of Lucas County Children Services, described the death as “one of the more heinous crimes against children that I’ve seen in my 30-plus years.”

“It’s outrageous to me that this kind of thing happens,” Mr. Sparks said.

Ms. Pruitt and Mr. Cervantes have one other child together.

Mr. Sparks said Children Services are working with family members to finalize permanent placement for the child.

“This is just a sad case,” he said. “I try to put it in perspective and, what’s the current phrase — wrap my mind around it — and I just can’t.

“… You hear this kind of stuff, you read it, and it feels like somebody hit you,” Mr. Sparks said. “It’s just unbelievable.”

 

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