MIAMI (CBS4) – Newly released documents in the Barahona child abuse and murder case continue to shed new light on the disturbing case and provide glimpses into the troubled life of accused torturer and child killer Jorge Barahona. Nearly a thousand documents were released Wednesday by the West Palm Beach State Attorney’s office.
The documents reveal Jorge Barahona told authorities he believed his adopted children, Nubia and Victor, tried to poison him by putting baby oil in his soda in the days leading up to the grisly discovery of the trio on the side of I-95 in West Palm Beach.
According to a 930-page document, Jorge told police Nubia died at his Miami home in February, but didn’t say how. He said he gave Nubia and her twin brother medicine to sedate them in the days before the twins were discovered in his truck alongside the busy highway.
The new documents are a compilation of search warrants of the Barahona home, cell phone records, statements from family members including Barahona’s sister and an apparent suicide note Barahona wrote in 2006.
In all the detail, however, the documents do not reveal how or when Nubia died. However, a firefighter who was on the scene said it appeared the child “had been dead for quite some time.”
Some of the most telling information comes from Laura Barahona, Jorge’s sister.
In a sworn statement with a detective, she says her brother and Victor showed up at her home on February 12 — just two days before the pair were found in West Palm Beach.
Laura said her brother told her he and Carmen were separated and he had nowhere to stay.
She immediately became concerned about a cut on Victor’s lip. When she asked, she was told that the boy fell and hurt himself.
Later, when she was making food for the boy she noticed marks on the boys’ wrists, “like he had been tied.”
When she asked about where Nubia was, she said her brother gave her conflicting stories. At first, he said “I lost Nubia.”
Then, Laura said her brother told her, “I was at a motel and she ran out of the truck.”
Laura told police as she asked more questions, her brother changed his story and said that Nubia was “at home.”
She became concerned enough that she had another brother contact DCF.
At some point, Jorge and Victor left the house.
The newly released court documents also shed new light on information Carmen Barahona told detectives in the days after her husband was arrested.
She told investigators that her husband was jealous to the point of accusing her of having affairs and he treated the children badly.
She told a detective that she “came home a couple times and I saw he had them in a corner tied” with tape.
She said Jorge threatened to “kill” her if she told anyone what she saw.
She also said Jorge was violent and hit her and the children with shoes.
The court documents show the focus investigators placed on the couple’s Miami home in the days after Nubia’s murder.
Taken from the house: DNA samples from the walls of a bedroom and dining room, towels and mop head, a couple of bloodstained items, clothes, blankets and rolls of tape.
Also recovered — an apparent suicide note Barahona wrote in 2006. In it, he said he had recently taken numerous pills — Excedrin pm, Advil pm, Tylenol pm and, that if he died, he did not want any suspicion falling on his wife, Carmen.
He described himself as a “news freak” who was concerned about how an “over-reacting” detective might view his death.
We also learned that just three days after Barahona was arrested, he attempted to severely injure himself in jail by standing on a sink in his cell and falling backwards to the floor.
He was taken to a hospital after the incident.
Investigators also requested Barahona’s financial information to try and determine if he had purchased any acidic substances.
After the discovery in West Palm Beach, a search warrant outlines that Jorge Barahona told investigators he was so distraught after his daughter’s death that he placed her body in a plastic bag, drove north and planned to commit suicide by setting himself on fire.
His son Victor was found in the truck badly burned with a toxic chemical. When found, he told investigators that “he was eating pink pills.”
Barahona said he could not commit suicide because Victor was in the car.
Barahona and his wife Carmen are also charged with murder, child abuse and child neglect in Miami-Dade. They have pleaded not guilty in that case.
Also on Wednesday, A Miami-Dade judge delayed a decision to release pretrial evidence to the public in the case against the Barahonas
Earlier this month, attorneys for Jorge and Carmen Barahona asked the judge to keep the evidence sealed claiming the pretrial publicity will taint the jury pool.
“Moving this trial to another place is going to be highly expensive and I think the court can at least take that into account,” Barahona’s attorney Edith Georgi.
Attorneys for several news outlets including CBS4 have argued that many of the documents the defense hopes to seal have already been made public and that sealing evidence is only allowed under the rarest of circumstances.
Prosecutors seemed to agree.
“If you’re going to be in this arena, the press is going to be here,” said assistant state attorney Gail Levine. “It’s transparency. It’s the United States of America.”
Media attorneys also pointed to the Casey Anthony case, where proceedings have been open through three years of intense, national publicity.
“And that case has more media than this case has, you’ve got Nancy Grace set up outside,” said Miami Herald attorney Scott Ponce.
CBS4’s attorney, Karen Kammer, also argued that the media’s presence is not enough to poison the jury.
“The mere fact that people may know about this case and people may be reporting on this case doesn’t mean that you can’t find people to sit in the jury box who can be fair,” Kammer said.
Wednesday afternoon, Miami-Dade court judge Sarah Zabel ruled she would take up the matter in 30 days. A tentative date has been set for June 30th.