March 30, 2010 By Wallin & Klarich

It was recently reported that a Pasadena couple was charged with torture and murder in the child death of their 2-year-old son, who was found dead in the family home. Maria Pelaez, 30, and Gabriel Diaz, 33, reportedly admitted to police that they taped the limbs of 2-year-old Rene Torres to restrain and punish him. Torres died from asphyxiation. It is alleged the toddler’s death was due to his mouth being taped shut.

Pelaez is arguing that Diaz was responsible for her son’s death, as she was not aware of what Diaz did to her son the night he died. Pelaez maintains she was nothing but a loving, doting mother and it would be absolutely, completely out of character to harm her child.

Murder in California is defined in California Penal Code Section 187. Murder is committed when someone commits an act that caused the death of another person with malice aforethought. Malice aforethought is a state of mind. It requires knowledge that through an action or omission, the result will be someone’s death. Malice can be expressed or implied. It is expressed when someone shows a deliberate intention to kill someone. It can be implied when there is no considerable provocation or when the circumstances show an abandoned or malignant heart. A conviction for murder can result in life in prison.

California Penal Code Section 206 defines torture as the intent to cause cruel or extreme pain and suffering for the purpose of revenge, extortion, persuasion, or for any sadistic purpose and inflict great bodily injury upon the person of another, as defined in Penal Code Section 12022.7. It does not have to be proven that the torture caused the victim pain. A conviction can result in a sentence of life in state prison.

Being accused of the death of a child is a serious accusation. A conviction for this crime brings serious penalties and consequences. If you are facing murder or torture charges, it is imperative that you seek the advice and expertise of an experienced Southern California criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience handling these cases and helping the accused develop defense strategies against such charges. Call us today at 888-280-6839 or visit us online at We will be there when you call.

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