Apr 1, 2014 1:27 PM by Andy Koen

Plea deals struck in Pueblo abuse case

PUEBLO - The aunt and uncle accused in a high profile child abuse case in Pueblo County both pleaded guilty to single charges of Child Abuse Negligently Causing Serious Bodily Injury, a Class 4 Felony. As part of the agreement, nine other felony and misdemeanor charges against each were dropped.

Eliazar Dolores Ramos Sr., 46, and Ofelia Melendrez-Agustin, 39, have been in jail on $1,000,000 bond apiece since their arrests back on September 5th. Both are in the country illegally and could be deported after serving their sentences.

Dolores-Ramos was sentenced to 4 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections with an additional 3 years of mandatory probation. He was given credit for the 208 days he's already served.

Meledrez-Augustin will be sentenced at a hearing on June 6th.

No character witnesses called to testify in support of Dolores Ramos during his sentencing. Deputy District Attorney Robert Toole requested that the children's foster mother, Jaylyn Pacheco, be given a chance to speak. She noted the mental anguish the children suffered as a result of the abuse and asked the court to sentence Dolores Ramos to the fullest extent of the law, meaning the maximum 8 years in prison. Tenth Judicial District Chief Judge Deborah Eyler ultimately applied the 4 year sentence agreed to by the defense and the district attorney.

The couple was awarded custody of the three children in early 2012 after their natural mother was deported to Mexico. They were all under the age of ten when abuse reportedly occurred and were removed by from the home on March 11, 2013 after social workers discovered the youngest, a three-year-old girl, had severe burns on her buttocks.

A sibling later told detectives that "Eliazar" had put their sister on a hot stove. The disclosure came during a supervised interview at the Pueblo Child Advocacy Center.

The burn was the most severe injury suffered. According to the probable cause affidavit, daycare workers, teachers and doctors all made various reports of abuse to the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office during the nine months before the children were removed.

In October, the News 5 Guardians asked Pueblo County Department of Social Services Director Tim Hart why the children weren't removed sooner. He explained that separating children, even in abusive situations, is itself a traumatizing act.

"By federal statute our first primary responsibility is to keep kids safe, in their homes whenever possible," Hart said.

Nevertheless, someone close to the case felt concerned enough to make a report to the Colorado Child Protection Ombudsman, Dennis Goodwin. He investigates complaints of inaction by county social workers and said in an October interview that the safety issues discovered in this case were quickly addressed.

"For me, it's a good example of how this can work, how this should work," he said in a telephone interview in October.

Goodwin has prepared a report about his investigation into this case and expects the document to be made public roughly sixty days from now.

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