Boyfriend charged in connection to death of 5-year-old considered flight risk: Prosecutors

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The man charged with tampering with evidence in connection to the death of 5-year-old Sierra Patino will remain in jail on bond, for now.

Attorneys for 30-year-old Santiago Esparza asked a judge to have his bond reduced Monday morning, but the prosecution argued Esparza is a flight risk because he previously discussed leaving the area.



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On Saturday, the judge set Esparza's bond at $100,000 for the safety of the community based on his violent history and violent allegations in the case. Esparza has said he had nothing to do with the death of Sierra.

The mother of the little girl, 27-year-old Priscilla Nicole Torres, was also arrested in connection to the child's death, according to Houston police. Torres faces a felony charge of tampering with evidence, a human corpse.

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Police say her mother confessed to hiding the child's body for nearly a week. She says the girl, Sierra Patino, died from ingesting chemicals.



If Esparza bonds out, he cannot have any contact with Torres and will have to wear an ankle monitor. He's also not allowed to consume any drugs or alcohol or have any weapons.

Esparza has faced a number of charges before including endangering a child, assault of a family member, evading, assault bodily injury and injuring a child.

In 2015, he was sentenced to four years of probation for endangering a child. He also served time in state jail for the same conviction.

RELATED: Mom of 5-year-old left in closet didn't implicate boyfriend in fear he would retaliate: Prosecutors

Detectives say Torres' first story to them detailed an accident with chemicals: a bottle of toilet cleaner reportedly fell in the bathtub where she was giving Sierra a bath. She claimed her daughter's face started peeling, and she died the next day.

Her next story was along the same lines, according to investigators, but Torres reportedly went back on her word that she was bathing Sierra. Instead, she said that it was Esparza.

"Her boyfriend offered to give the child a bath while the defendant made dinner," authorities explained. "The door was closed and upon opening the door, she observed her boyfriend with the daughter. She said daughter was exhibiting chemical burns to her extremities, also some redness and bruises to forehead."

RELATED: Mom claims toilet cleaner spill killed her 5-year-old: police

Detectives say Torres wrapped the girl's body in a blanket and put her in a closet. Police say Torres told them she was too scared to call 911 after her daughter died because she feared CPS involvement. She allegedly said Sierra died from ingesting chemicals on Aug. 27, and her body had been kept in the closet until Labor Day.

The Medical Examiner's Office is still working to figure out a cause of death.

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