Police have arrested a Maryland teen and charged him with murder after he allegedly beat his mother to death with a hammer last week.
Andrew Zaragoza, 16, has been charged as an adult in connection with the July 20 death of 56-year-old Donna Zaragoza, according to The Baltimore Sun.
Zaragoza does not have a criminal record nor has he had previous contact with the criminal justice system. He’s a high school student who was known for playing football.
However, the teenager had been the victim of abuse and lived around people who used drugs, the newspaper has reported.
Zaragoza’s father and uncle both died of drug overdoses last year, and his mother was allegedly taking pills before she reportedly struck him on the morning of the alleged murder, according to Zaragoza’s lawyer, public defender Tim Bahr.
“He is a victim of abuse throughout his life, mental abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse,” Bahr told a judge on Saturday.
Donna Zaragoza’s visibly beaten body was found around 6:30 a.m. on July 20 in a second-floor bedroom in the family’s Bel Air, Maryland, home.
At the time, Andrew Zaragoza was in another bedroom but police were able to convince him to give himself up, as reported by ABC2. He had self-inflicted stab wounds and was taken to a Baltimore hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Officers had been called to the home multiple times previously for matters involving drug abuse, domestic problems, mental health concerns, animal complaints and medical emergencies, investigators have noted.
Harford County Circuit Judge David Carey ordered Zaragoza detained without bond on charges of first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and use of a dangerous weapon with intent to injure.
Given the teen’s age, officials are exploring whether to house him at a hospital instead of in jail as his case goes through the court system.
“This is a very tragic situation,” Carey said. “He’s a 16-year-old who we don’t know where he’d go or who he’d be released to.”
[Featured Image: Harford County Sheriff’s Office]