‘Miranda Casarez is not a monster’: Defense tells jury death of 4-year-old boy was not starvation-related

Casarez on trial and accused of starving her stepson to death

SAN ANTONIO – The Bexar County Medical Examiner had ruled the cause of death starvation for a four-year-old boy, but another medical examiner had a different opinion.

Benjamin Cervera died in August 2021, and his death was ruled starvation by Bexar County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Kimberley Molina.

Benjamin’s stepmother, Miranda Casarez, along with his father, Brandon Cervera, were charged with injury to a child.

Casarez’s defense team began their case on Monday and said Casarez was a loving mother.

“Miranda Casarez is not a monster,” defense attorney Anthony Cantrell said. “She tried to give this child food and really tried to take care of that child.”

Cantrell also said they had an expert who believed Molina was wrong in her assessment. That expert, a former medical examiner from Florida, Dr. William Anderson, appeared via Zoom to testify.

Anderson told the jury there was no internal or external proof Benjamin died of starvation. He believed other factors contributed to his death, like brain swelling, autism and Type 1 diabetes.

In cross-examination, the state questioned Anderson’s credibility and how much time he actually spent reviewing the case.

Anderson said he hadn’t looked at photographs of Benjamin or past medical records.

A jury could begin deliberation as soon as Tuesday in this case. If found guilty, Casarez faces up to life in prison.

Brandon Cervera is still awaiting his trial. It has yet to be scheduled.

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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