Monday, September 25, 2023

Newburgh Woman Sentenced for Locking Child in Room, Starving Him to Death

A City of Newburgh woman is heading to prison for 15 years after starving a 7 year-old boy to death while allegedly keeping him locked and hidden in a room. Her boyfriend, the father of the child, is awaiting sentencing but only faces up to 4 years in prison.

Leticia Bravo, age 40, was sentenced yesterday in connection with the starvation death of Peter Cuacuas, age 7, last year. She was the child’s caretaker. Arturo Caucaus, age 54 of Newburgh, who is the child’s father and Bravo’s boyfriend, pled guilty to Criminally Negligent Homicide in March of 2022.

According to Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler, Bravo brought Peter’s lifeless body into St. Luke’s Hospital in Newburgh at around 8:00 am on February 10, 2021. The boy was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.

The City of Newburgh Police Department began an investigation, aided by the New York State Police and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. The investigation revealed that during the 2020-2021 school year, Bravo became the primary caretaker of Peter. The child stayed with Bravo at her apartment on William Street in the City of Newburgh daily except for Saturdays when Bravo and Peter stayed with Arturo in his apartment.

An autopsy conducted by the Orange County Medical Examiner concluded that Peter, who weighed just 37 pounds, had died as a result of malnutrition. It is alleged that Bravo kept Peter locked and secreted in a bedroom behind a door that locked from the outside. Hoovler explained that since January of 2021, Peter never logged on for virtual schooling, despite numerous conversations between Bravo and Peter’s teachers and other school representatives.

When Bravo pled guilty, she admitted to being Peter’s primary caregiver, knowingly under-feeding the seven-year-old, and failing to provide him with medical attention that she knew he required. Bravo previously worked as a child-care provider. Bravo also admitted that she intended on causing physical injury to the boy and that she recklessly created a grave risk of serious physical injury to the boy, which ultimately culminated in his death.

On February 2, 2022, Arturo Cuacuas, 54, of Newburgh, the boy’s father, pled guilty to the felony of Criminally Negligent Homicide. He admitted that in the months prior to Peter’s death, he would see Peter with Bravo once a week, noted his deteriorating condition, and that he failed take appropriate steps to help him.

Pursuant to Arturo’s guilty plea, he will be sentenced to one and one-third to four years in state prison, the maximum legally permissible sentence for Criminally Negligent Homicide. The plea agreement required that he cooperate against Bravo.

“There is no more innocent victim than a child,” said Hoovler. “The facts and circumstances of this case are unimaginable, and the community collectively grieves the loss of Peter Cuacuas. No one deserves the type of depraved mistreatment the victim in this case suffered. The dedicated efforts of the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of this case has resulted in a just sentence that will hold this defendant responsible for her actions.”

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