SALINAS, Calif. – A jury in Northern California convicted a 20-year-old man of torturing, starving and beating two children whose bodies were found in a storage unit.
The jury on Monday found Gonzalo Curiel guilty in the 2015 killings of a 7-year-old boy and his 3-year-old sister. They also convicted him of torturing their older sister in their Salinas apartment, KSBW-TV reported.
Curiel’s former girlfriend and the children’s relative, Tami Huntsman, 42, pleaded guilty in February to two counts of murder. Huntsman had agreed to care for the three children after their mother was killed in a car accident and their father — who is related to Huntsman — was sent to prison.
An officer found the oldest child, then 9, with bruises and a broken collarbone in the backseat of a locked SUV in December 2015. Officials later located the tiny bodies of her siblings in plastic containers inside a storage unit in Redding, about 300 miles (483 kilometers) north of Salinas.
The child told investigators that Huntsman and Curiel killed her younger siblings on Thanksgiving after she was caught stealing a bagel. The girl, now 12, was the primary witness in Curiel’s trial.
She told jurors she and her siblings were stripped naked, sprayed down with cold water, beaten with a shower head, and locked in a tiny bathroom for extended periods of time as punishment.
Curiel was a “sadistic” person who “enjoyed controlling and hurting children,” Monterey County Assistant District Attorney Steve Somers said.
Curiel was a minor when the killings occurred. He was tried as an adult, but prosecutors were not able to seek the death penalty under California law. He and Huntsman were scheduled to be sentenced next week.
This story has been corrected to show Gonzalo Curiel’s first name was misstated as Gustavo.
Information from: KSBW-TV.