The father of a 2-year-old girl whose hands were allegedly scalded by her mother as punishment, told a Santa Maria jury on Friday about “that day when everything happened.”
Jose Gonzalez, who was originally charged in the child abuse case along with Lorena Arenas, took a plea deal and has completed his time in custody.
He testified in Arenas’ trial Friday that he saw her carry their toddler daughter into the bathroom of their Santa Maria apartment on April 14, 2010, and heard the faucet turn on as the girl screamed.
“From the first time she grabbed her, she was already crying,” Gonzalez added.
Arenas had become angry after learning her daughter had gotten into her makeup
, Gonzalez said.
He said under questioning by Deputy District Attorney Brandon Jebens that he walked by the door to the bathroom and saw Arenas leaning over the sink with their daughter, but didn’t look more closely.
“This is bad, that’s my reaction,”
Gonzalez said in heavily accented English.
After less than five minutes, Arenas and the 2-year-old emerged from the bathroom, Gonzalez said.
“I saw her hands started turning pink,” he said of the girl.
Gonzalez said he retrieved ice to put on his daughter’s burns.
“She was still crying, obviously, from the pain, from the burning,” he added.
Gonzalez said he gave Arenas money to go buy aloe vera gel from the drug store to try to soothe the burns, and she did.
He said he considered taking his daughter to the fire station that was close to their South Pine Street apartment, but “unfortunately” chose not to.
Gonzalez also said Arenas asked him later that evening to drive their daughter to Marian Regional Medical Center for treatment, but he refused because he only had enough gas in his car to drive to work early the next morning.
He testified that he went to sleep in the bedroom that night, while Arenas lay down with their wailing daughter on a mattress in the living room.
When he woke up to go to work at 4 a.m., Arenas again asked him to take their daughter to the hospital. When he refused, she left with the girl to walk to the hospital, Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez was left home with the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, and he said he considered asking a neighbor to watch her while he went to work but figured Arenas and the other daughter would be back soon and left the 3-year-old home alone.
“I know it’s not right,” he said in court.
Police later came to the apartment upon learning from Arenas that the 3-year-old was alone.
Gonzalez also said Arenas told him the night of April 14, 2010, that she was going to tell authorities their daughter accidentally burned herself in a bucket of mop water. Police and medical personnel have said that is the story Arenas gave them.
Gonzalez said he had seen Arenas use cold water previously as punishment, but not hot water.
He said that at the time of the burn incident, he and Arenas had an unhappy relationship and that the police had been called for a domestic violence incident in 2009.