Leonard Raymond Orta, Jr., became the legal guardian of his niece who suffered from Rett Syndrome in July 2009. Rett Syndrome is a rare genetic neuro-developmental disorder with symptoms similar to autism that strikes girls almost exclusively. Orta became guardian for Kaiya because the treatment she needed was not available in the state, Hawaii, where her parents resided.
Every month Kaiya’s father would send Orta money to provide for the little girl’s needs. Tragically Orta, after caring for his niece for six months, withheld both proper nutrition and medication from Kaiya for ten days, and the child died.
Police were called to Orta’s Phoenix apartment in February due to a domestic violence incident in which Orta’s father, who also resided at the apartment, and Orta became involved in a confrontation over the absence of Kaiya. Orta’s father became alarmed not only by a foul odor emanating from a bedroom, but also by the extended absence of his granddaughter.
Police arrested Orta when they discovered the body of Kaiya in the bedroom. Investigators believe the five-year-old girl may have been dead for as long as four weeks.
According to the police report, Orta admitted not only lying to his father when he said Kaiya had been admitted to a hospital for treatment, but admitted that he withheld food and medication from his niece for ten days, as well.
The original criminal charges filed against Orta were first-degree murder, child abuse, and abandonment and concealment of a dead body.
Orta pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of his niece last week. In the plea agreement, he will spend the next eighteen years in prison and will not be eligible for parole, work furlough or any other kind of release until his full sentence has been served.
Original story here.