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Barahona Pleads Not Guilty At First Court Appearance

WEST PALM BEACH (CBS4) - Jorge Barahona, the man whose daughter Nubia was found dead in the back of his pickup truck on I-95 Monday, made his first court appearance Friday and pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted first degree murder with a weapon and aggravated child abuse with a weapon.

"We entered a plea of not guilty," Barahona's attorney James Snowden said.

Snowden refused to answer questions about his client – who at times looked disheveled – and shaky. He also would not answer questions about the case.

It was Barahona's first public appearance since his truck was found with him and his 10-year-old son Victor suffering from burns and breathing problems from breathing in chemicals. Barahona's daughter's body was in the back of the truck in a plastic bag.

Barahona said he was distraught after placing the dead body of victor's twin sister into a plastic bag and putting it in the back of his pick up truck. Police said he has not said how she died. But he did say he was planning to kill himself.

The attempted murder charge against Barahona was added Thursday night and stem from injuries suffered by Victor during the incident. Jorge's wife, Carmen Barahona, was also seen in the back of a Miami-Dade police detective's car Thursday, but she is not in custody and is still being questioned.

During his court appearance, the judge in the case denied bond on both counts that Barahona faces stemming from the bizarre story that started Monday morning.

The judge ordered Barahona to stay away from not only his own children – but any kids.

State Attorney Michael McAuliffe said that the investigation into the bizarre incident would continue and that several law enforcement and prosecutorial offices in multiple jurisdictions were acting in coordination to "pursue all leads with the goal of holding any and all individuals responsible for these alleged crimes and other crimes fully accountable."

Victor remains in the pediatric intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital. According to Lissette Valdes-Valle of DCF, Victor is in critical condition and is receiving intensive treatment for his injuries. He has been awake at time and is interactive and moving, but hasn't been able to get out of bed yet.

Late Friday afternoon, West Palm Beach Police Department Lt. Kalil said a search warrant at the Barahona home was executed Friday, but he wouldn't say what, if anything, was found. Lt. Kalil also confirmed the autopsy report has been issued by the medical examiner, but wouldn't discuss what it said.

Friday's appearance came after Jorge no-showed his first court appearance Thursday. About 15 minutes before the Barahona's hearing, the Palm Beach Sheriff's Office said he threw himself off a sink backwards in an apparent attempt to knock himself unconscious.

During Thursday's hearing Circuit Judge Ted Booras ordered that Barahona undergo a mental evaluation. After spending some time in the hospital Thursday, Barahona was returned to jail late Thursday afternoon.

Additional charges may be filed depending on what investigators find when an autopsy is performed on Nubia's body.

The road ranger who found Barahona's boy described what he found when he saw Barahona's vehicle.

"I was mad at first," said road ranger Thomas Butler. "I was like, 'there's a boy sitting here.' I opened the door, as soon as I opened the door, I got hit with this, I don't know it was. It wasn't right. It was some type of odor."

Butler also said the boy was in very bad shape.

"It was like an uncontrollable shiver," Butler said. "His arms were like this the whole time and he was shaking and shaking and shaking and really couldn't speak. When he did say something, he said it very low."

Thursday, Barahona's truck was towed to secure facility where it will be examined by an FBI forensics team.

Just days before the body was found, DCF reportedly received a call that the man had been abusing two of his two adopted children.

According to DCF, a child who lived near the Barahonas told a teacher that he would bind his adopted children's hands and feet with duct tape and only release them so they could eat.

The teacher called DCF and reported the suspected abuse on February 10th. At least one of Barahona's other adopted children has reportedly confirmed that the Victor and his sister were kept bound in the Barahona's home.

Carmen Barahona
(Source: C.W. Griffin, Miami Herald)

According to DCF, Barahona and Carmen, 60, have been foster parents for decades. A few years ago, they took in Victor and his sister and later adopted them. The couple also has two other adopted children living with them in the home at 11501 SW 47th Terrace; a 7-year-old girl and an 11- or 12-year-old boy.

Before the Barahona's adopted Victor and his sister, DCF confirmed that they had been the subject of three reports to the abuse hotline. The agency declined to detail the nature of these reports.

Carmen Barahona reportedly told investigators that she and her husband had recently separated and that she had custody of the couple's other two children — not Victor and his twin.

Those two children were taken into DCF custody and during a hearing Wednesday, Judge Cindy Lederman ordered that "no one that had any idea what was going on in that home will have any contact with these children whatsoever."

In a separate DCF case, the father of the 6-year-old granddaughter of Carmen Barahona who said she saw abuse of Victor and his sister was given temporary custody of the child while the investigation into Carmen and Jorge continues.

Barahona's attorney is expected to ask a judge to reconsider the decision to deny bond, while the state is asking that he stay behind bars throughout the trial.


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