Phoenix, Arizona: The Maricopa County Attorney's Office announced on Wednesday, January 26 that they intend to seek the death penalty should Rafael and Maribel Loera be convicted of murder in a case concerning their adopted daughter, Ana Loera.
In the filing attorneys called the actions of the Loeras "especially heinous, cruel, or depraved," saying "If not yet admitted into evidence, the State will offer additional evidence from guilt phase witnesses relevant to the aggravating factors, including the cruelty suffered by the victims" which would include "Medical Examiner and Forensic Anthropologist to discuss cruelty elements."
Ana's skeletal remains were discovered after a house fire broke out in the Loera residence on January 28, 2020, just an hour after two children were removed from the home by the Department of Children's Services.
Another child, 11, had been removed from the home on January 20 after calling 911 to report that she was home alone and scared.
Upon extinguishing the fire, skeletal remains were located in the attic of the home.
It was not long before those remains were identified as belonging to Ana Loera who was 11 years old at the time of her death in July 2017.
According to statements made by Rafael, Ana became ill, but it was not until several days later that treatment was sought at the Phoenix Children's Hospital.
On the way to the hospital however, Ana began to vomit and convulse, and died in the car. Fearing that they would lose custody of their other three children, two of whom were Ana's siblings, Rafael hid her body in the attic of the home.
Rafael and Maribel were initially charged with various counts of child abuse, but the charges against them were upgraded to murder in April 2021.
Their trial is scheduled to begin on March 1, 2022.