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California woman accused of murdering son was sought in 2013 child-abuse case

California woman accused of murdering son was sought in 2013 child-abuse case

The San Bernardino Mountains woman accused of murdering her 1-year-old son had a warrant out for her arrest that was still active this week — more than nine years after she failed to report to jail following a child-abuse conviction in 2013, Superior Court records show.

Samantha Victoria Garver, 33, and her boyfriend, 32-year-old Sergio Mena, were booked on suspicion of murder on Sunday, Oct. 2, in the death of Henry Wheatley Brown. Medics responding to a report of a baby not breathing at a Surgarloaf home found the boy burned and unresponsive, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said. Sugarloaf is a community east of Big Bear Lake.

Henry was pronounced dead at a hospital.

There was no fire at the home that would have explained the injuries, said Mara Rodriguez, a Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman. She declined to say specifically how Henry was burned because of the ongoing investigation.

In March 2013, Garver was charged with willful child cruelty that could cause injury or death.  In April 2014, the felony charge was dropped in exchange for her pleading guilty to a misdemeanor count of willful child cruelty. She was sentenced to 100 days in custody and was ordered to complete a one-year child-abuse treatment program.

But Garver never reported to the Glen Helen Rehabilitation Center and either never enrolled in or completed the treatment program, resulting in the arrest warrant, records show.

The circumstances of the abuse in that case are unclear. A District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Also unclear is how Garver managed to remain free for so long after the arrest warrant was issued in 2014.

Rodriguez said each station periodically receives a list of outstanding warrants, for misdemeanors and felonies, in their jurisdiction. The deputies at those stations, when time permits between going on patrols, booking suspects, following up on crimes and performing other duties, will go to the last known address in an attempt to locate the person.

If that person is no longer at that address and there is no forwarding address, deputies will look at databases to try to find an updated address. If they are unable to locate the person, the warrant will be checked again later, Rodriguez said.