Mother takes stand against former lover, accused killer

ESCONDIDO — A mother who has admitted playing a role in her toddler son’s death testified June 10 against her ex-boyfriend who is accused of abusing her children, as well as torturing and murdering the boy.
Dressed in a blue San Diego County jail jumpsuit with shackles around her waist, Maria Razo, 27, cried as she testified about how her former boyfriend, Jose Maurice Castenada, physically abused her and her two children, resulting in the death of 2-year-old Cesar Razo.
Castenada, 24, would hit Cesar Razo with a closed fist on his “little body” and “little head,” usually when the toddler was crying, she said. The defendant would often tell her she was spoiling her son and she needed to be harder on him, Maria Razo testified.
Further, she testified he used a broken plastic hanger, which he made specifically for striking Cesar Razo, to inflict injuries all over the boy’s body.
If convicted, Castenada, of Guatemala, could be sentenced to death. He is charged with murder, assault on a child and two counts each of torture and child cruelty. Meanwhile, Maria Razo pleaded guilty in June 2007 to voluntary manslaughter and two counts of felony child abuse with the allegation that great bodily injury was inflicted, relating to Cesar Razo and her then-5-year-old daughter.
Cesar Razo died June 25, 2005, after the couple took the unconscious boy to the Palomar Medical Center in Escondido telling the medical staff he had fallen from a swing, according to court records. The police were called after doctors discovered more than 200 bruises on the child. The child later died. An autopsy revealed Cesar Razo died from two fatal blows: one to the abdomen and the other to the back of his skull.
Maria Razo, of Mexico, testified the first time Castenada hit her was Christmas Day 2004. On that day, she said he punched her because he got upset that her friends had wanted her to drink the night before. Other times when he got angry she said he would “pull my hair and hit me with his fist.”
She said she never hurt her children before she met the defendant. The two met at a swap meet after Cesar Razo’s birth in February 2003.
When Maria Razo is sentenced this summer, she will receive 16 years and eight months in prison under her plea agreement.

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