Orange County News
For Immediate Release Contact: Christopher Borek
February 4, 2022 845.291.3276, 845.238.4245c
District Attorney Hoovler Announces Father’s Guilty Plea in
Child Starvation Killing
Father of Seven-Year-Old Boy who Starved to Death Pleads Guilty to
Criminally Negligent Homicide
Pursuant to Plea Agreement the Father must be Sentenced to Maximum State Prison and Cooperate Against the Child’s Primary Caregiver who is charged with
Murder in the Second Degree
Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on February 2, 2022, Arturo Cuacuas, 54, of Newburgh, pleaded guilty to the felony of Criminally Negligent Homicide in connection with the starvation death of his seven-year-old son, Peter Cuacuas. An Orange County grand jury previously charged Peter Cuacuas’ primary caregiver, Leticia Bravo, 39, of Newburgh, with crimes including Murder in the Second Degree, in connection with the starvation death of the seven-year-old boy, who prosecutors allege was kept secreted inside of Bravo’s City of Newburgh Apartment, while he starved to death. Arturo Cuacuas did not live with Bravo during the time period relevant to the charges. At the time that Arturo Cuacuas pleaded guilty, he admitted that in the months prior to Peter’s death, he would see Peter with Bravo once a week and noted his deteriorating condition and failed take appropriate steps to help him.
Pursuant to the plea agreement placed on the record at the time that Arturo Cuacuas pleaded guilty, he will be sentenced to one and one-third to four years in state prison, the maximum legally permissible sentence for Criminally Negligent Homicide, and will cooperate with prosecutors, including testifying against Bravo at any hearings or trials. The agreement further provides that if Arturo Cuacuas fails to testify truthfully the District Attorney’s Office would not be prevented from filing additional charges against him.
On February 10, 2021, shortly after 8:00 am, Bravo brought Peter Cuacuas’ lifeless body to St. Luke’s Hospital in Newburgh. He was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. An investigation conducted by the City of Newburgh Police Department, aided by the New York State and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office, revealed that during the school year that commenced in September of 2020, Bravo became the primary caretaker of Peter Cuaucas. Bravo was the girlfriend of Peter Cuacuas’ father, Arturo Cuacuas. It is believed that Peter would stay with Bravo at her apartment on William Street in Newburgh during everyday but Saturday, when Bravo and Peter would stay with his father at Arturo Caucuas’ apartment.
An autopsy conducted by the Orange County Medical Examiner concluded that that Peter, who weighed just 37 pounds, had died as a result of malnutrition. It is alleged that Bravo kept Peter locked and secreted in a bedroom behind a door that locked from the outside. Since January of 2021, Peter never logged on for virtual schooling, despite numerous conversations between Bravo and Peter’s teachers and other school representatives.
Bravo, who had worked as a child-care provider, was charged with Murder in the Second Degree, Manslaughter in the First Degree and Manslaughter in the Second Degree. Bravo faces 25 years to Life in prison on the charge of Murder in the Second Degree.
Bravo was arrested by the City of Newburgh Police Department on October 7, 2021. Arturo Cuacuas was charged on October 7, 2021 with Criminally Negligent Homicide for his role in Peter’s death. Arturo Cuacuas will not be sentenced until after criminal proceedings against Leticia Bravo are concluded.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Newburgh Police Department and New York State Police for their investigation and the arrest of the defendants.
“Although this father was not Peter’s primary caregiver and did not live in the same residence as Peter, he bears responsibility for Peter’s death for not intervening when it should have become apparent that his son was not receiving appropriate care,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “Defendants must always be treated individually and consistent with their relative culpability. This plea agreement ensures that although this defendant will be punished with a state prison sentence, his truthful testimony will also be available at a trial of the person who took on the responsibility of being Peter’s primary caregiver and then failed to provide the most basic of care. It is unthinkable that someone would accept that responsibility and then deny a child the barest necessities of life. It is truly disturbing how this child was kept hidden from school authorities before he died. It is likely that had there been no COVID-19 pandemic, the school and social service protocols would have revealed Peter’s deteriorating situation to authorities. Nevertheless, those who were, and chose to be, his caregivers are ultimately to blame.”
The case is being prosecuted by Chief Trial Assistant District Attorney Richard Moran, Special Counsel to the District Attorney Stewart Rosenwasser and Assistant District Attorney Alexis Gregory.
This criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.