Salinas: Torture charge added in child starvation case
By Julia Reynolds
SALINAS - For the second time, new charges have been added to the prosecution of two Monterey County women accused of chaining an 8-year-old girl to a wall and denying her food.
A torture charge, which carries a possible seven-years-to-life sentence, was filed Wednesday against Eraca Dawn Craig, 31, and Christian Jessica Deanda, 44.
The pair already faced a felony child abuse count after their arrest on March 14. Two misdemeanor child endangerment counts concerning two boys were later added, as well as a felony false imprisonment charge in connection with the girl.
Craig and Deanda faced up to six years and eight months on those charges, prosecutor Sarah Ma said.
Ma said an amended complaint filed this week added the felony torture count as well as an enhancement of causing great bodily injury to the felony child abuse charge, which could add an additional three years in prison.
The case began when sheriff's deputies were asked to check on the children's welfare at a house north of Salinas. They discovered the "emaciated" 8-year-old girl who, they said, had been chained to the wall at times to keep her from food.
Sheriff's officials said a 5-year-old boy and the 8-year-old girl found at the house in March are siblings, while a 3-year-old boy is the biological son of one of the arrested women. The two eldest children were under the legal guardianship of Deanda and Craig, according to county social workers