Jury sees video of child begging for food on first day of starvation death trial

Miranda Casarez charged with injury to a child in the death of her stepson four-year-old Benjamin Cervera.

SAN ANTONIO – A 4-year-old boy who died of starvation is the center of a trial that began Tuesday.

As the trial began, Benjamin Cervera’s stepmother Miranda Casarez pleaded not guilty to a charge of injury to a child in front of a jury.

Brandon Cervera, 28, was arrested Thursday on a charge of injury to a child causing death. (KSAT)

Casarez along with the little boy’s father, Brandon Cervera, were arrested and charged in the case after Benjamin died on Aug. 17, 2021.

Both were released on bond while awaiting trial.

During opening statements, the state detailed what they described as horrific abuse that Benjamin allegedly suffered.

The state said Casarez allegedly withheld food and water from Benjamin and even recorded a video on her phone of him crying and begging for bread.

In the video clip shown in court, Benjamin is sitting in the backseat of the car and is crying saying, “I want bread.” Casarez can be heard telling him to sit back and you briefly see the side of her face before the video is cut off.

The video was taken the morning of Aug. 17, 2021, just hours before he was taken to the hospital and died from what has been ruled as starvation.

Jurors also were shown photos from inside the family’s apartment showing all cabinets and the refrigerator with locking devices on them. In the room Benjamin shared with his siblings, there were also locking devices on the closet door.

The state said that a security camera from inside the home captured Benjamin trying to look for food at night.

Casarez was seen crying in court as photos of Benjamin in the hospital were shown to the jury.

The little boy had bruising on several areas of his body.

Brandon Cervera is still awaiting his future trial date which hasn’t been set yet.

Both Cervera and Casarez face up to life in prison if found guilty.

Testimony will resume on Wednesday morning.

About the Authors

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with 15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast Texas Crime Stories.

Sal Salazar is a photojournalist at KSAT 12. Before coming to KSAT in 1998, he worked at the Fox affiliate in San Antonio. Sal started off his career back in 1995 for the ABC Affiliate in Lubbock and has covered many high-profile news events since. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at home, gaming and loves traveling with his wife.

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