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Prosecution closes case with photos

Crime: Prosecutor rests after exhibiting photos of whipped, burned 5-year-old

Posted: July 2, 2010 7:45 p.m.
Updated: July 3, 2010 4:30 a.m.

Antonio Rodriguez watches the prosecution show pictures of Desarie Saravia, a 5-year-old girl Rodriguez is accused of murdering, during his trial Friday in San Fernando Superior Court.

SAN FERNANDO — The prosecution wrapped up its case against accused child killer Antonio Rodriguez on Friday by letting some of the more than 100 injury pictures tell the stories of brutality in the savage beating death of 5-year-old Desarie Elizabeth Saravia.

“Desarie’s body told us what happened to her,” prosecutor Mary Sedgwick told jurors in her closing argument as she dimmed the lights in the San Fernando Superior Court room and showed a photograph of the girl’s battered body.

“Her tooth was knocked out,” she said, replacing the photo with another one of Desarie.

“There was a tear to her anus, fresh burns to her feet,” she said, showing photo after photo.

“There were burns to her legs, a mark on her abdomen.”

The photographs shown were among the more than 100 exhibits of autopsy and hospital photos taken of Desarie’s body and entered into evidence by the prosecution over the last month.

“You saw the destruction of Desarie’s life,” Sedgwick told jurors. “You saw her go from being a vibrant child to a child who was mute with bruises and burns to all parts of her body.”

Rodriguez, 29, is charged with nine crimes including murder, torture and five crimes specifically against children.

He exhibited few facial expressions as graphic images of a burned and battered Desarie flashed on a screen inside the courtroom.

Sedgwick continued her narration of the photos she displayed.

“There were the loop marks, the whip marks,” she said. “The brutality is overwhelming.”

“I ask you to render a verdict that the evidence demands and find him guilty.”

Sedgwick began her summation Friday by reminding jurors that two people had custody of Desarie in the final few months of her short life — the girl’s mother, Debby Saravia, and her boyfriend, the accused.

“Two people had custody of her,” she said. “But only one person was with her from nine o’clock to about 12:45 on Nov. 12, 2004, and that was the defendant, Antonio Rodriguez.”

Rodriguez, Sedgwick said, sexually assaulted Desarie in the bathroom of Hasley Canyon Park and beat her to death.

“The defendant is the main perpetrator in this case,” she said.

Debby Saravia remains in custody and is scheduled to be tried separately in her daughter’s death.

“Brian Saravia (Desarie’s brother) was a powerful witness,” she reminded jurors. “He courageously told what Debby and the defendant did to him.

“Brian told us how the defendant hit his sister with a wire. Brian told us how the defendant would punch he and his sister.”

Defense attorney Jack R. Stone began giving his closing arguments to the jury late Friday afternoon and is scheduled to continue with the final defense of his client Tuesday.

Rodriguez is formally charged with murder, torture, allowing a child to suffer, forcing a lewd act on a child and inflicting “inhuman corporal punishment” on a child, as well as two counts of allowing a child to suffer conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death and two counts of sexually penetrating a person against her will.



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