Woman sentenced to 25 years in prison for starving her stepson to death

Miranda Casarez was found guilty of injury to a child in death of her 4-year-old stepson

SAN ANTONIO – A woman who was found guilty in the starvation death of her 4-year-old stepson was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison.

Jurors deliberated for about 3 1/2 hours before deciding punishment for Miranda Casarez, who was on trial on a charge of injury to a child in connection with the death of her stepson, Benjamin Cervera.

“Death by starvation is horrible and unconscionable. This case paints a grim picture of neglect and abuse and highlights the urgency of justice for victimized children,” Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales said in a news release.

The state pushed for the maximum punishment, life in prison, while defense attorneys asked jurors for probation.

Casarez pleaded for mercy on the witness stand Thursday to avoid a prison sentence.

She told jurors that she was a good mother, loved Benjamin and took no responsibility for the boy’s death.

“When did you starve Benji?” a prosecutor asked Casarez, who replied, “I didn’t starve him.”

The defendant instead blamed the boy’s father, Brandon Cervera, for the starvation and also said he physically abused him.

“You will not take responsibility for any of it?” the prosecutor asked the defendant. Casarez replied, “I didn’t cause those injuries. I never hit him.”

The jury on Wednesday just took one hour to find Casarez guilty.

During the trial, the state said Casarez 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 Benjamin was taken to a hospital and died from what was ruled as starvation.

Brandon Cervera is also charged in the case and his trial is pending.

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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.

Misael started at KSAT-TV as a photojournalist in 1987.

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