Maliyha Hope Garcia was 5 years old, but weighed only 24 pounds when paramedics found her dead on the living room floor of her adoptive parents home just before Christmas 2016. The little girl was so emaciated that every rib was poking through her thin skin, according to court documents. “Arms and legs looked like bones with skin hanging on them,” Redmond Police officer Jered Kirk write in his investigative report.
“Arms and legs looked like bones with skin hanging on them,” Redmond Police officer Jered Kirk wrote in his investigative report.
Estevan “Steve” Garcia, 34, and Sacora Horn-Garcia, 31, allegedly starved Maliyah to death, denying the child regular meals while her several step-sisters were well-fed, according to a grand jury indictment in Bend, Oregon. If the child tried to steak to the kitchen in search of food at night, an alarm rigged to her bedroom door would alert the couple, the documents said.
“Suffice it to say she went through hell,” Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said in a written statement provided to Crime Online. The district attorney declined to discuss the case with Nancy Grace, citing a gag order imposed by the judge overseeing the Garcia case.
The couple is being held without bond on charges of murder by abuse, manslaughter, and criminal mistreatment for causing the death of the girl.
Text messages included in the investigative documents show how the couple debated if to carry Mailyah to a doctor the morning of her death because they suspected she had the flu.
“To me urgent care is always less professorial like there doctors are always laid back,” the husband texted, an indication that he was concerned doctors in a hospital emergency room might be more aggressive. Instead, his wife called 911 to summon paramedics. They reported finding the child stiff and blue.
Estevan Garcia, who is her biological uncle, adopted Maliyah when she was an infant. He later married Sacora Horn-Garcia and they blended their families, which included several older daughters from previous marriages, according to court papers.
The couple allegedly “acted recklessly and under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life,” the district attorney’s statement said. “The grand jury found that their actions and inactions, which included neglect and maltreatment, caused the death of the child.”
While Nancy Grace argues that the death penalty should be considered in this case, there is no indication that prosecutors will pursue it. Very few death sentences have been handed down in that northwest state in recent years and no executions have been carried out in over two decades. Grace discusses the case against the Garcias with Alan Duke in this episode of “Crime Stories.“
[Feature Photo: Family Handout]