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Mother of murder victim to face trial

Trial: Woman accused in death of 5-year-old in Castaic will be in court Tuesday

Posted: January 7, 2011 9:56 p.m.
Updated: January 8, 2011 4:55 a.m.

The mother of a 5-year-old girl found battered and naked on the sidewalk of a Castaic cul-de-sac more than six years ago is expected to stand trial Tuesday on charges of murder, torture and child abuse.

Debby Saravia, 32, of San Fernando, has been behind bars at the Century Regional Detention Facility in Lynwood since Nov. 13, 2004, the day after her daughter Desarie Elizabeth Saravia died.

Detectives with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in the Santa Clarita Valley arrested Saravia and her boyfriend, 29-year-old Antonio Rodriguez, on charges of murdering the girl and abusing the girl’s brother, Brian, then 6 years old.

Last July, after a summerlong murder trial in San Fernando Superior Court, jurors convicted Rodriguez of murder, torture and six other related crimes.

Two months later, he was sentenced to death for Saravia’s rape and murder.

Debby Saravia is charged with murder, torture, two counts of child abuse and two counts of corporal injury to a child.

She’s been held at the Lynwood facility without bail for more than six years awaiting trial, said sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida.

The two-story Lynwood jail is exclusively reserved for female inmates.

When Saravia’s murder trial gets under way, prosecutor Mary Sedgwick — who successfully prosecuted her boyfriend Rodriguez — will also be prosecuting her.

“She has her own trial,” Sedgwick said Friday.

Asked about the condition and well-being of the murdered girl’s brother Brian, who is also named as a victim in the Saravia case, Sedgwick said: “That’s a juvenile, and I cannot discuss that.”

The boy, who has been placed in foster care and appeared at the Rodriguez trial in the summer, was asked by The Signal on one occasion in the hallway outside court how he was doing.

“Fine,” he said.

During the Rodriguez trial, jurors heard from witnesses that Desarie Saravia was pronounced dead Nov. 12, 2004, at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital after emergency-room staff noted she was malnourished, underfed, underdeveloped and with a “distended abdomen.”

The little girl weighed 48 pounds at 5 years old, still wore a diaper and exhibited head-to-toe injuries consistent with having been battered, burned and whipped.


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