Caregivers accused of toddler's murder in court

Caregivers accused of toddler's murder in court

HUNT COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas couple was arraigned on capital murder charges Wednesday afternoon for allegedly killing a two-year-old boy they were supposed to be taking care of.

KLTV 7's TV cameras were the only ones in the court Wednesday afternoon.

Arturo Vega Jr., 23, and his girlfriend, Gabriela Ortiz, 22, both of Campbell, have been formally arraigned on capital murder charges for the death of two-year-old Brandon Herrera.

Officers armed with assault rifles set up a small perimeter around the Hunt County courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

Inside, Gabriela Ortiz and her boyfriend, Arturo Vega, wore bullet proof vests. Authorities say that was for their protection.

"We always try to be careful when emotions run so high," said Chief Deputy Joe Knight with the Hunt County Sheriff's Department.

Ortiz and Vega sat emotionless, keeping a distance from each other. Outside the courthouse we met a woman, who's known Vega since he was a child.

"He was going to church and he was doing real good until his teenage years," said Lupe Torres. "I know his parents are a real good family, but things happen," said Torres.

Torres says she knew the couple was taking care of Brandon Herrera. A little boy, she never got the chance to meet.

"It hurts me real bad. I was crying about it," she said.

Larry Middlebrookes has known Gabriela's family for years. He says the accusations have taken a toll on her father.

"I know he's very upset with the way things are and I know I would be if my child was in that position," he said.

Authorities say for at least six weeks Brandon lived with the couple now accused of ending his life. The home, authorities say is now the prime crime scene. Middlebrooks says he knows Gabriela's father had no idea what was happening.

"Him and his wife are both very tender loving parents and I think if they had known anything about that going on that would have been stopped real quick," said Middlebrookes.

Now, Brandon's accused killers are under close protection until this case is closed.

Arturo Vega's court appointed attorney met with him for the first time Wednesday afternoon to discuss this case.

Both suspects are being held on a $2 million bond in the Hunt County Jail.

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