A Mesa man was sentenced to 35 years in prison last week after pleading guilty to the kidnapping and the attempted child abuse of a 3-year-old girl who was found covered in feces and in a garbage bag.
Francisco Javier-Rios Covarrubias – described by a witness as a cross-dresser – was also sentenced to lifetime probation after his release.
The defendant showed no emotion as Superior Court Judge Warren Granville sentenced him for his Aug. 28 guilty plea to two counts of kidnapping and three counts of child abuse in connection with a case in which one witness told police he had offered the baby for sex.
Granville appreciated the fact that Covarrubias decided not to go to trial, eliminating the need for the girl to testify in court so that a victim’s advocate could speak for her.
The unnamed victim’s representative, who had been taking care of the victim since the incident occurred, started choking up at the sentencing hearing as she discussed the crime.
“Her innocence was taken away from her by what I would call a monster,” she said. “I don’t understand how anyone can do something so horrific to a child.”
According to court records, the victim was still bound with duct tape, covered in feces and inside a garbage bag with only her head exposed when detectives found her. The victim had been in the sole care of Covarrubias for a month before police found her on Jan. 18, 2016.
Despite her ordeal, the representative said, the little girl “is empathetic, very resilient and extremely loving. This person did not break her.”
After the incident, the victim was non-communicative. The representative described how she didn’t even know if the victim spoke Spanish or English due to her silence.
To the representative’s surprise, the victim would “sing all the lyrics to songs on certain radio stations.” The representative would later find out the reason for this strange occurrence.
According to court documents, the defendant would leave the victim alone for hours while he went to work and would put the radio or television on at an extremely loud volume to drown out any noise the victim might make.
“The victim was entitled to have the love and care that she has now, and I can’t imagine the cruelty and the breach of trust that has been reflected on why we are here today,” said Granville.
According to court documents, Covarrubias admitted that he put the victim in the garbage bag so as not to get urine or feces “on the stuff in the room.” He also admitted to putting the victim in the closet and duct-taping her hands, feet and mouth.
Prosecuting attorney Frankie Grimsman said the defendant’s actions were “not only devastating to the victim and something that she will be dealing with for the rest of her life, but even the police officers who saw her at the scene were traumatized by this. It impacted everyone who has dealt with this case.”
One person who dealt with this case, who was not present during the sentencing, was the male witness who first contacted the police about the victim and the conditions that she was enduring.
The witness had gone to Covarrubias’ apartment after meeting him online. When the witness arrived at the apartment, he was greeted by Covarrubias in a blonde wig and a tattered pink dress, according to court records.
After a short time in the apartment, the witness noticed a foul smell only to realize that Covarrubias had the victim next to him. The victim still had her hands and mouth covered with duct tape.
According to court documents, after the witness rejected an offer to have sex with the toddler, he asked Covarrubias if he had kidnapped the child. Covarrubias said he hadn’t.
The witness notified the police as soon as he left Covarrubias’ apartment.
The baby’s mother was homeless and had asked Covarrubias to take care of her.