Things That Matter

The Murder of a Teen Mom By Her Boyfriend is Raising a Discussion Around the Prevalence of Femicide in Abusive Relationships

On Thursday, 27-year-old Junior Fayiah Carlos was sentenced to life in prison over the violent murder of his 19-year-old girlfriend, Christine D’Cruz. According to reports, Carlos murdered D’Cruz on December 30, 2017 in her apartment in Mandurah, Perth, Australia. Carlos killed D’cruz in a fit of rage after they had been arguing about the paternity of their child, who was just weeks old. Carlos claimed that he killed D’Cruz in self-defense after she had gotten ahold of a kitchen knife and threatened him. However, prosecutors noted that he was “delusional” due to the dangerous cocktail of drugs and alcohol he was on at the time. 

According to reports, Carlos was high on marijuana, methamphetamines, and sleeping pills when he stabbed her 35 times, partially decapitating her. 

After he killed D’Cruz, Carlos apparently covered her with a blanket, left her in the bathroom, and fell asleep. 15 hours later, he called a friend and allegedly admitted: “she’s dead”. According to authorities, Carlos and D’Cruz had had a turbulent relationship during the two years they were together. Two weeks before D’Cruz was murdered, she had even filed a restraining order against Carlos, but continued to see him. D’Cruz’s family claims that D’Cruz had long been abusing her, citing unexplained bruises and other injuries she suffered before his death. According to records, Carlos had also been previously convicted for attacking a former partner of his. 

The death of 19-year-old Christine D’Cruz is making international headlines because it shines a spotlight on the fatal violence that women universally experience at the hands of men. 

Femicide–what the Oxford dictionary defines as “the killing of a woman or girl, in particular by a man and on account of her gender”–has been at the top of people’s minds in recent days. On November 3rd, women took to the streets of Mexico to march in honor of Dia de Muertas–The Day of Dead Women. The march was a tribute to the thousands of women who have died due to domestic violence in Mexico–nine every day. The activists staged the march to be right after Mexico’s famous Dia de Muertos in order to bring awareness to the public health crisis that plagues Mexico and, indeed, countries across the world.

According to the World Health Organization, femicide is usually “committed by partners or ex-partners, and involves ongoing abuse in the home, threats or intimidation, sexual violence or situations where women have less power or fewer resources than their partner”. The same study revealed that while only 5% of all murders of men are committed by an intimate partner, 35% of all murders of women globally are reported to be committed by an intimate partner. 

It’s also notable that although D’Cruz had seemingly taken steps towards ending the relationship (i.e. taking out a restraining order against Carlos), she still kept seeing him in private.

 As domestic violence activist Beverly Gooden revealed before in her viral Twitter hashtag campaign #WhyIStayed, there are a myriad of reasons why women stay in abusive relationships. “It’s not easy to leave when you remember how it used to be, or when they romance you during the good times,” Gordon stated on her website. “Or when they promise it is the last time. Because you believe in love and you believe in them”. 

Emotional reasons aren’t the only reasons women stay in abusive relationships. They also do out of fear for their lives. According to the 2018 Femicide Census, “55% of the women killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse in 2017 were killed within the first month of separation and 87% in the first year”. For women, sometimes staying seems like the safer option. 

Since Carlos’s sentencing, D’Cruz’s family is now teaming up with domestic violence groups to seek an inquest into the way the authorities handled the murder of their daughter.

Although Carlos is headed to jail, the family is still suffering from what they feel was a mishandling of their daughter’s murder case.  Although Carlos was sentenced to life in prison, he will be eligible for parole in just 19 years. Although we can’t read the minds of the parents of Christine D’Cruz, we can’t help but wonder if they consider the possibility of such a brief sentence as justice for the lost life of their daughter. 

According to the family’s impact statements at the time of the trial, D’Cruz’s family is devastated and plagued by grief at the death of their beloved daughter. They expressed sorrow that their granddaughter would now grow up without a mother. They revealed that D’Cruz had dreams of working in childcare. The judge in the case revealed that D’Cruz’s father still “looked around for his daughter even though he knew she was dead”.

A Substitute Teacher In Texas Had Sex With Her Student In Her Parents’ Home

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A Substitute Teacher In Texas Had Sex With Her Student In Her Parents’ Home

Pasadena Texas Police Department

Olivia Huerta, 23, was arraigned Thursday on second-degree felony charges of an improper relationship with a student and sexual assault of a child between the ages of 14 and 16. She’s being held on a bond of $40,000.

The assault happened sometime between January and April of 2018 when Huerta was substituting for a social science teacher at Pasadena Independent School District’s Sam Rayburn High School. A year later, the then 16-year-old victim told his friend what happened, and the friend told school administrators, who called the police, according to the report by KPRC.

The unnamed victim told police that the two were talking via Snapchat.

Credit: Pasadena Texas Police Department

Police reports show that the student alleged that the two had exchanged phone numbers. They texted and had conversations through Snapchat. Later, when police were questioning Huerta, they say she confessed to the crime. She also voluntarily gave her phone to police to show the text conversations between the two. Police say the conversations allude to the inappropriate relationship.

The student couldn’t remember the teacher’s name and described her to police as a short, curvy Latina. After showing him several photos of Latina substitute teachers employed by the school district at the time of the incident, he identified Huerta. She was arrested after admitting to the relationship.

They had sex at Huerta’s parents’ house.

Credit: @rate1_city / Instagram

The victim told police that Huerta and he walked from school to her parents’ house, where they had sex. It was a one-night-stand that left the student a victim of sexual assault and pedophilia.

When the allegation came to light, the school district immediately removed Huerta from campus.

Credit: marinecorpsrecruiter / Instagram

In a statement made to KPRC2, school district officials made it clear that anyone accused of sexual assault is not welcome on school campuses. “Upon receiving the allegation, the administration at Sam Rayburn High School immediately notified district administration and the Pasadena ISD Police Department. The accused individual was promptly removed from campus and is no longer employed by Pasadena ISD.”

The story and its implications are being lost on some people who are reading about it.

Credit: Frank Huerta / Facebook

In a Facebook comment under the story, AJ Hernandez asked (edited for grammar), “So my question: Why don’t they blast the student as well? After all, didn’t the student go along with it? I blame the kid as much as well.” Many people in the comments seem to think that Huerta “looks like a child as well,” and that the age difference isn’t “so bad.” One Laura Montaño agreed with Hernandez, commenting, “They just act like the victims so they won’t be held accountable for their actions! How is it that teenagers are able to go to jail for murder but are victims when it comes to sex???? Makes no sense! Yeah, adults should know better but she looks like a child to me as well!”

Someone named Maestro Salchicha responded defending the child from the online fury saying, “Because kids are kids and ultimately victims of these adults who know better.”

The legal age of consent in Texas is 17 years old.

Credit: zenerdydrummer / Instagram

The legal age of consent across the United States varies from 16 years old to 18 years old. There are also “close in age” laws, that allow for a minor to consent to sex with an adult who is closer in age. In Texas, the age of consent is 17 years old, and the close-in-age law provides an age exemption if the person is no more than 3 years older than the minor.

In case you missed it, consent isn’t always consent if the person says “yes.”

Credit: Iris Rodriguez / Facebook

In certain power dynamics, consent isn’t always able to be given freely. Employers sleeping with their employees are frowned upon because of the financial pressure for the subordinate to ‘consent.’ Other forces besides a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are at play. The individuals must be weighted equals in the power dynamic.

In 2003, Representative Helen Giddings (D), introduced a bill that bans sex between students and teachers within the same school district. This all means that Huerta’s victim was not legally able to give his consent, given his age, and a victim of the student-teacher ban.

If you have any information about the case, you can call the Pasadena ISD Police Department at 713-740-0200.

Credit: chrisgonzo21 / Instagram

Men are flooding the comments with, “Where these teachers when I was a teenager attending class?” One woman mocked the onslaught of jokes with a comment, “Derp “wEaR wErr dEEz TeeCheRs WiN eYe WuZ N sKoOl” Someone else commented, “All the men in these comments disgust me.” A child was raped by a teacher in Pasadena, Texas last year. That’s never okay.

READ: One San Francisco Man Used The New Snapchat Filters To Nag A Police Officer For Attempting To Sleep With A Minor

Texas Man Convicted For Beheading His Sleeping Roommate And Killing Roommate’s Girlfriend

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Texas Man Convicted For Beheading His Sleeping Roommate And Killing Roommate’s Girlfriend

@deannaboyd / Twitter

After spending more than five hours deliberating on the verdict, a Texas jury has found Hector “El Cholo” Acosta-Ojeda guilty of capital murder for the killings of Erick ‘Diablo’ Zelaya, 26, and Iris Chirinos, 17. Prosecutors said Acosta-Ojeda shot his roommate, Zelaya, twice in the head while he slept. He then used a machete to behead Zelaya and left his severed head on a trail near Arlington, Texas’s AT&T Stadium. Zelaya’s girlfriend, Chirinos tried to flee the scene of the gruesome murder, but Acosta-Ojeda fatally shot her. 

Acosta-Ojeda, 30, pleaded not guilty to the crime and did not take the stand.

Credit: @deannaboyd / Twitter

In closing arguments, Acosta-Ojeda’s defense attorneys, Bill Ray and Gary Smart, told the jury that no weapon was linked to Acosta-Ojeda. They argued that the presence of so many other people in the house leaves room for reasonable doubt. They also argued that authorities did not offer a proper reading of Acosta-Ojeda’s Miranda rights, which tell a person under arrest that they have the “right to remain silent” and that, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” By that waive of rights, any confession Acosta-Ojeda made was nullified. 

Still, The Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney (ADA), Kevin Rousseau, argued, “He confessed to every single aspect of this case,” according to the Star-Telegram.

Prosecutors argued that the motive was linked to another shooting, which occurred in May 2017.

Credit: @miguelgomeztv / Twitter

In a series of strange events, Acosta-Ojeda’s home was targeted by gunmen while he and others were sleeping. Moments later, Zelaya and young Chirinos arrived, laughing. The very next day, someone burned down Acosta-Ojeda’s home. ADA Rousseau learned that Zelaya had confessed to being a part of the shooting just hours before Acosta-Ojeda executed him in his sleep.

After Acosta-Ojeda killed the couple, he buried them in a shallow grave in the backyard, but not before he beheaded Zelaya with a machete. He put the head in a trash bag, made a sign, and rode his bicycle, with a severed head in hand, to what was left of his home. There, he left his friend’s severed head along with a sign that read, “La Raza Se Resreta y Faltan 4,” which roughly means, ‘the race, or group, must be respected and only four remain.”

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, which will be determined in a sentencing hearing Wednesday.

Credit: Iris Gomez / Facebook

While her family has yet to speak out about the incident, friends have posted to her Facebook page, saying “God rest your soul. Prayers to your family.. god sees your true beauty, he will judge the criminal that did this to you… RIP.” Folks continue to post to her page, years later, with thoughts like, “I miss you babygirl. RIP,” and “Missing you like crazy, love you lil sis.”

If the jury doesn’t reach a unanimous decision on capital punishment, Acosta-Ojeda will receive mandatory minimum sentencing of life imprisonment without parole.

Members of the alt-right have tried to use the story to further anti-immigrant rhetoric.

Credit: @TEEITHIGH / Twitter

“Look at the face of the people crossing our border every day to seek that better life. Why behead in Mexico when you can behead in America?” tweets Clayton Freeman. “Democrats want people like this in America!
SIC,” tweeted another woman. A Facebook post sharing the news on the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office page had just one comment: “Hang him!”

Acosta-Ojeda is implicated in another murder case that opened just one month after he killed Zelaya and Chirinos. 

Credit: Triston Algiene / Facebook

Acosta-Ojeda is accused of robbing and murdering 34-year-old Triston Ray Algiene. In October 2017, Algiene’s mutilated body was found, cut in half, and buried in concrete in the foundation of a vacant home. Another man, Felipe Eduardo Ortiz, is also accused in the murder. The two had been renting rooms in the house they chose to bury the body under. Authorities suspect that Ortiz and Acosta-Ojeda had set up the meeting with Algiene to appear as a drug deal, but planned to rob and murder him. According to a report last year, Algiene was then tied with duct tape and rope and beaten into giving the PIN number to his debit card. Now-deceased Zelaya and Chirinos allegedly were tasked with withdrawing money from the ATM. They called Acosta-Ojeda, who allegedly got angry and killed Algiene. They dug a hole in the bedroom, sawed Algiene’s body in half, and covered it up. By the time investigators arrived, the house had been remodeled and up for sale. 

READ: The Murder of a Teen Mom By Her Boyfriend is Raising a Discussion Around the Prevalence of Femicide in Abusive Relationships