Wendy Rogel-Pagasa Pleads Not Guilty to Second-Degree Murder and Child Abuse in 2-Year-Old Son's Death

Wendy Rogel-Pagasa* pleaded not guilty today to charges of second-degree murder and child abuse in the death of her 2-year-old son, Jorge Zamora-Rogel.

Phoenix police say the 18-year-old mother called 9-1-1 more than three hours after the boy went unconscious due to being badly beaten by her boyfriend Juan Garcia -- who's still on the loose.

Click here to read previous details on the case.

The boy was pronounced dead shortly after the fire department's arrival at the home.

Rogel-Pagasa was initially booked into jail on a felony child-abuse charge, but court documents show a second-degree murder charge was added from a grand jury indictment.

According to court documents obtained by New Times, Rogel-Pagasa and her son were at home on February 24 when Garcia showed up around 7 p.m. with some food.

After Garcia's girlfriend informed him that her son wouldn't be eating any of the food he brought over, Garcia went to the boy's bedroom and attempted to pull him out of the room by his ear.

When the boy began to cry, police say Garcia picked the boy up by the throat and began slamming his head into the bedroom wall. Garcia then began slamming the boy's head against the ground, beating the kid unconscious before Rogel-Pagas intervened, according to court documents.

When Rogel-Pagas did try to get involved, police say he whipped her with an electrical cord and choked her.

Garcia attempted to wake the boy up -- by hitting him more, lifting him up by his ankle, bending his fingers back, and slapping him face -- but the boy remained unconscious, according to police, and Garcia just left.

Rogel-Pagas also tried to wake the boy up, telling police she cleaned the "bloody froth" coming out of his mouth several times.

Rogel-Pagas told police her son's arms were spasming uncontrollably, and his erratic breathing was making a "rattling sound" -- which she recognized from "one of her dogs which died shortly after making this noise."

About 90 minutes after Garcia left, he showed up again and tried to wake the boy up -- again by hitting the kid and bending his fingers back -- which still didn't work.

Eventually, police say, the boy stopped breathing and his heart stopped beating as well.

Shortly before 10:45 p.m. -- more than three hours after Garcia allegedly started beating the boy -- Rogel-Pagas called 9-1-1, but the boy was pronounced dead at the home shortly after the fire department's arrival.

According to the court documents, Rogel-Pagas had no explanation for why she didn't call 9-1-1 immediately, or at least get help from the neighbors, citing the "violent assault on her son causing severe swelling to [his] head, obvious bruising, bloody froth coming from his mouth, labored breathing with rattling sounds, unconsciousness, and non-responsiveness to pain stimuli for over three hours..."

Rogel-Pagasa's due in court again on April 30.

*According to the court and jail, her last name is Rogel-Pagasa. At the time of her arrest, police said her last name was "Rogel-Pagas," which we used in previous posts.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley