Deaf Parents Allegedly Kill Crying Baby Daughter

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(ABC News)–A deaf Texas couple have been charged in the beating death of their
5-month-old daughter who was allegedly killed after an argument about
who would care for the crying infant.

Hector Rene Cupich-Quinones, 35, and Maria Guadalupe Zuniga, 37, of
Richardson, Texas, have been arrested and charged in the death of their
baby. Both parents are deaf and mute.

“It's sort of been my understanding that they can somehow detect or feel
these vibrations and stuff like that and you still have some hearing,
but not something to where you can make out anything,” Richardson Police
Sgt. Kevin Perlich told ABCNews.com. “They could sense when the child
was upset and crying.”

“Anybody would know if a child was crying or not,” Philadelphia
Children's Hospital pediatrician Dr. Cindy Christian told ABCNews.com.
There are the tears and the babies make faces, so there are visual cues
to crying aside from the sound.

Christian said that for deaf parents the trigger for frustration could
be seeing the baby constantly crying or feeling the baby's distress when
they hold the child.

“People who can hear would think that if you couldn't hear the crying,
it would be less frustrating because what triggers us it that sound,”
Christian said. “It was probably something about what that baby was
doing that triggered the same frustration and those feelings [in the
deaf parents].”

Cupich-Quinones has been charged with capital murder and Zuniga has been charged with injury to a child.

Richardson police responded to a report of an unresponsive child around
5:30 a.m. on Sunday. When they arrived, the father had the child in his
arms and the baby was “pale, not breathing, and had bruises on her
arms,” according to a police search warrant.

The officer performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took the child to
a hospital. The hospital reported that the child had suffered “massive
trauma to back of the head, bruising to the child's back, chest, and
both arms,” according to the warrant.

The baby died at the hospital.

“It was pretty bad, certainly something children shouldn't have to go
through,” Perlich said. He did not know if the child was deaf.

In an initial interview, using an interpreter, Cupich-Quinones told
police he had gotten up around 3 a.m. to get a drink of water and
noticed the child lying on the living room floor near the small day bed
the baby slept in. He said the child was faint of breath so he woke up
his wife and eventually contacted their interpreter who called the
police.

His story would soon change.

Another deaf man who lived at the house, Charles Niel, indicated to
police that their search should include the backyard where there were
beer cans and whiskey bottles.

“Niel pointed at the couple and then put his hand to his mouth
indicating they had been drinking,” the police report said. Police found
the beer cans, whiskey bottles and other containers of alcoholic
beverages at the house, according to the search warrant.

When the couple were brought to the police station for additional
interviews, police said Cupich-Quinones voluntarily waived his rights
and agreed to answer questions.

He allegedly told police that he and his wife had been drinking and had gotten “into an argument over the child crying.”

He said he tried to give the child to Zuniga but she was “too intoxicated” and would not take the child.

Police say the father told them that he was holding the baby with both
hands around the torso and shaking the baby at around 12:30 a.m. He
allegedly told police he “hit the back of the child's head on the
kitchen counter at least three times,” according to the report. He also
allegedly struck the child's face, knocking her off the counter and onto
the kitchen floor.

He told police he then left the infant with Zuniga who allegedly put the
baby to bed and went back to her room to sleep. Cupich-Quinones said he
went outside to smoke a cigarette and then went back to bed. He stated
that at around 3:30 a.m., he woke up and began to argue with his wife
about who was at fault for hurting the baby.

The argument allegedly went on for two hours before police were called.

“Hector Cupich-Quinones admitted that his assaultive actions caused the
death of the child and took full responsibility for committing this
offense,” according to the police report.

After being read her rights, Zuniga invoked her right to counsel and did not provide a statement to police.

Both parents are being held at the Dallas County jail. The father is
being held on a $1 million bond and the mother is being held on a
$750,000 bond.

Police did not know if the couple had retained an attorney and Dallas County officials did not respond to request for comment.

Copyright 2013 by ABC News

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