29-year-old Monique Osuna has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of her 9-year-old stepson, Emrik Osuna.
On Thursday, an Iowa judge sentenced Monique Osuna to life in prison for having allegedly tortured and abused her stepson to such a grave degree, that he eventually died. According to People, Emrik died on September 2, 2020 in St. Luke’s hospital.
Monique Osuna is accused of having starved and beaten the 9-year-old, as well as having forced him to exercise for 20 hours at a time. Monique and her husband, Erik Osuna, pleaded guilty to the murder in February, 2022. As per an official statement by prosecutors, they took the guilty plea as an alternative to potentially receiving death sentences.
How did Emrik Osuna die?
According to KTVB, the abuse Emrik Osuna experienced was recorded through hidden cameras that had been put up by suspects. In the footage, the stepmother can be seen withholding food from the child, beating him with a frying pan, and forcing him to exercise at 3 a.m. in the morning.
In September 2020, paramedics discovered the bruised and emaciated body of Emrik Osuna in the family’s Meridian apartment. He died soon after, at St. Luke’s Children Hospital in Boise.
As per the Seattle Times, the suspects installed the camera since they thought Emrik may have Reactive Attachment Disorder, a condition that develops due to abuse and neglect. When police arrived following the death of the 9-year-old boy, Monique and Erik removed the cameras, but they were eventually retrieved by authorities and used as evidence in the investigation.
On the witness stand, Meridian Police Detective Eric Stoffle described one of the times the 9-year-old broke down as his stepmother forced him to exercise. The boy is reported to have asked God why he had to endure so much pain.
“He starts crying… that was one of the most significant instances that affected me. As he’s talking to God, you can see Monique in the background and sneak up to where she’s hiding behind the counter, listening to him. That affected me the most.”
According to investigators, the stepmother beat Emrik with belts, dog leashes, and metal spoons. She was also known to lock him in a closet and force him to sleep without bedding. According to People, the boy was starved to such a degree that he would resort to eating scraps from the garbage.
In response to the footage, as well as autopsy photos of the severely bruised body of the boy, Judge Steven Hippler condemned Monique Osuna. ABC reported that Ada County prosecutor Jan Bennett said that it was about time they gained justice for Emrik's death.
“It’s been nearly 2 years since the senseless and heartbreaking abuse and murder of Emrik Osuna. Emrik was an innocent boy who did not receive the love and care every child in this community deserves.”
While Emrik’s father, Erik, did not play an active role in the abuse, he is being prosecuted for allowing it to occur. A date for his sentencing has not yet been scheduled.