Kent mother faces murder charge after being accused of killing toddler

KING COUNTY, Wash. — A local mother is behind bars, suspected of killing her 2-year-old son, Jose. Prosecutors and Kent police believe that 19-year-old Sandy Fernandez hit her child multiple times, leading to his death.

Fernandez is being held at the King County Correctional Facility on a $1 million bond.

Casey McNerthney, of the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, says the bail reflects the brutality of the crime. “The defendant murdered her 2-year-old son by striking him more than once in the abdomen and slamming him down on a hardwood floor. These assaults resulted in massive internal injuries.”

An autopsy reveals that at the time of death, Jose had a fractured skull, fractured jaw, and internal bleeding.

Jose’s grandparents, Shaun Earl and Jaime Bentley, say they had no idea what their son’s former partner was capable of. They were heartbroken and horrified.

“How can you not love a child? You know, especially your own child,” said Earl.

“If we could have just known and somehow petitioned to get him out of that home, he would be with us, and he would be alive and happy and loved and taken care of,” said Bentley, Jose’s step-grandmother.

They tell KIRO 7 that their relationship with Fernandez was strained and that she prevented them and their son from being a part of Jose’s life.

“We’ve offered her clothing, we’ve all had her offered her diapers. I mean, we’ve reached out so many times. And she never wanted any of that,” said Bentley.

Prosecutors say Fernandez was living with her new boyfriend, Cristian Garcia, and her son at a motel in Kent, where she worked. Jose’s bed was a blanket on the hardwood floor.

During questioning, prosecutors say Fernandez admitted to hitting Jose in the abdomen on two occasions. She also outlined how she was facing increasing stress since moving out of her mother’s house, at one point telling police “like I hate to say it but all I wanted to do was strangle him.”

Earl says he wishes they’d known about the abuse and Fernandez’s struggles before it was too late.

“Everybody has guilt, wishing we all could have done more. But our hands were tied. And, you know, he just wanted to be loved,” said Earl.

Fernandez will be arraigned next Thursday.