MIAMI (CBS4)- The public and the news media will be kept out of the dependency court hearings for the three surviving adopted children of Jorge and Carmen Barahona, the Miami-Dade couple accused of fatally abusing one of their children.
On Thursday, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia issued her decision to close the hearings, saying she did so “in the best interest of the children,” according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.READ MORE: Florida Gator Hunt Lottery Draws Record Applicants
The request was made by the Guardian ad Litem program, one of several agencies under scrutiny for how they failed to respond to warning signs of abuse in the Barahona home, the Herald reported. The program provides advocates for children in child-welfare court.
The Miami Herald argued against the closure, saying the public and the children were better served by transparency.
The Barahonas had four adopted children, including twins Victor and Nubia. Investigators said the couple cruelly abused the twins in their west Miami-Dade home, tying their hands and feet together, confining them to a bathtub, beating, starving and torturing them.
On Feb. 14, Jorge was found by a Road Ranger slumped near his red pickup truck on the shoulder of Interstate 95. Victor, in the front seat nearby, was saturated with toxic chemicals.READ MORE: Fatal Oakland Park Crash Involving 3 Vehicles Under Investigation
The naked, decomposing body of Nubia was found hours later in the truck’s flatbed, stuffed into a black trash bag and in the fetal position.
The couple is awaiting trial on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and neglect. Meanwhile, their surviving children-Victor and two other adopted youngsters- have entered the child-welfare system, where hearings will be held on such issues as their health, education and who will care for them.
In her ruling, Sampedro-Iglesia said she believed the public would get information about what happened through the criminal investigation, according to the Hearld. There was no reason for the media to receive information about what happened through the juvenile court system, she wrote.
Also, because hearings to terminate a parent’s rights are closed to the public, the judge wrote that she considered other types of hearings, such as status reports or pretrial conferences, part of the “TPR process.”
Therefore, Sampedro-Iglesia wrote, they too should be closed.MORE NEWS: Florida's Jobless Rate Dips To 3 Percent
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