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Posted on: June 21, 2022

District Attorney Hoovler Announces 15 Year State Prison Sentence in Child Starvation Killing

Orange County News
 
For Immediate Release                                Contact: Christopher Borek 
June 21, 2022                                            845.291.3276, 845.238.4245c

 

District Attorney Hoovler Announces 15 Year State Prison Sentence in 

Child Starvation Killing

 

Caretaker of Seven-Year-Old Boy who Starved to Death Previously Pled Guilty to 

Manslaughter in the First Degree

 

Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on June 21, 2022, Leticia Bravo, 40, of Newburgh, was sentenced to fifteen years in state prison and five years post-release supervision in connection with the starvation death of seven-year-old Peter Cuacuas. Bravo had pled guilty to Manslaughter in the First Degree in March, 2022.

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 Police 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.  Peter would stay with Bravo at her apartment on William Street in Newburgh everyday but Saturday, when Bravo and Peter would stay with his father at Arturo Cuacuas’s apartment.

An autopsy conducted by the Orange County Medical Examiner concluded 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. 

At the time Bravo pled guilty, she admitted being Peter’s primary caregiver, knowingly under-feeding the seven-year-old, and failing to provide him with medical attention that she knew he required.   Bravo previously worked as a child-care provider.  Bravo also admitted that she intended on causing physical injury to the boy and that she recklessly created a grave risk of serious physical injury to the boy, which ultimately culminated in his death.

 

On February 2, 2022, Arturo Cuacuas, 54, of Newburgh, the boy’s father, pled guilty to the felony of Criminally Negligent Homicide.   Prosecutors alleged that the seven-year-old was kept secreted inside 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.   Arturo Cuacuas 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 that he failed take appropriate steps to help him.  Pursuant to the plea agreement placed on the record at the time Arturo Cuacuas pled 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.   The plea agreement required that he cooperate against Bravo.

District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Newburgh Police Department and New York State Police for their investigation and the arrest of the defendants.

“There is no more innocent victim than a child,” said District Attorney David Hoovler. “The facts and circumstances of this case are unimaginable, and the community collectively grieves the loss of Peter Cuacuas.  No one deserves the type of depraved mistreatment the victim in this case suffered.  The dedicated efforts of the law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation of this case has resulted in a just sentence that will hold this defendant responsible for her actions.”

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.

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