A Jefferson County jury found Joseph William Barela, DOB: 03-16-89, guilty of child abuse resulting in the death of his girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter, Samantha Sanchez, in January, 2017.
Following nine days of trial, the jury deliberated one day before finding Barela guilty of: Child Abuse Resulting in Death (F2); Child Abuse (M1); and two counts of Tampering with a Witness (F4). The tampering charges were the result of Mr. Barela’s attempts to prevent two witnesses from testifying against him. The jury returned their verdict on June 16.
Barela was sole caregiver for the Samantha while her mother was at work, according to testimony at trial. On January 26, 2017 her mother left for work at 7:30 a.m. Ten minutes later Barela called her and said Samantha was having a hard time breathing. He asked if he should call 911. Westminster police arrived at 5557 79th Avenue where they found the child was not breathing.
She was transported to the hospital but never regained consciousness. She died the following day.
When her mother left for work, Samantha was behaving normally, awake, and watching a movie.
The jury heard testimony that Barela and the child’s mother had been living together for about seven months. The mother worked two jobs. Barela stayed home and cared for the child. Samantha had recently been potty-trained and Barela and the mother argued about punishment for toileting “accidents”. The mother insisted there not be physical punishment; Barela argued for physical punishment. There was evidence in the child’s bed that there had been a toileting accident that day.
Doctors found that Samantha has suffered massive brain injury, including subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhaging, brain contusion, bilateral retinal hemorrhaging, scalp hemorrhage, and numerous bruises in various stages of healing.
Barela will be sentenced on August 3, at 1:00. He could potentially be sentenced to 60 years in prison.