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Newburgh Woman Facing Murder Charges After 7-Year-Old Peter Cuacuas Dies Of Starvation

NEWBURGH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- There are disturbing new details in the death of a 7-year-old boy who starved to death back in February.

Police have announced charges against two people.

Seven-year-old Peter Cuacuas died of starvation and neglect, said investigators announcing second-degree murder charges for 39-year-old Letitia Bravo, who is believed to be the boy's mother. She is now behind bars.

When she brought her Peter from the Newburgh apartment they shared to a hospital on Feb. 10, he was lifeless and shockingly small, said Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler.

"He weighed 37 pounds, and he was 7 years old. I don't think there needs to be much more said than that," Hoovler said.

He said the medical examiner's findings led them not only to Bravo, who had primary custody of the boy, but also his father, Arturo Cuacuas, who lived elsewhere and had the boy with him every Saturday.

The father is charged with criminally negligent homicide. Investigators say he should have intervened.

Some members of Newburgh's community held a series of vigils on William Street, demanding justice for the boy.

"It's hard to see a kid be treated like that," Newburgh resident Robert Bowman told CBS2's Dave Carlin.

"It's too close to home," Newburgh resident Yolanda Zachary said. "It's sad. He used to play at the bus stop all the time before the corona came."

The investigation found the boy was allegedly an abused prisoner in his own home.

"It is alleged that Bravo kept Peter locked and secured in a bedroom behind door, locked from the outside since January 2021," Newburgh police commissioner José Gomérez said.

The boy had not logged in to his classes, but when asked if there was an alarming lack of follow-up by Newburgh Schools, the district attorney had this response: "Something definitely has to be looked at by both my office and internally in the city of Newburgh, but again, we have seen time and time again that during COVID, it was a learning experience for everybody."

"Today is justice for him," Gomérez said. "Sometimes it takes a little time."

The next court date for Bravo and Cuacuas is Oct. 26 in Orange County Court.

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