BROWNSVILLE — It was financial desperation, not insanity, that led to the suffocation, stabbing and decapitations of three small children, their mother told police.
Her second statement contradicted a confession she gave the night before, hours after Angela Camacho and her common-law husband, John Allen Rubio, were arrested when the children’s bodies were found.
Two written statements and a videotaped statement by Camacho on March 11 and 12 were presented Tuesday in Rubio’s capital murder trial over the objections of defense lawyers.
Rubio and Camacho, both 23, are charged in the deaths of Julissa Quezada, 3; John Stephan Rubio, 1; and Mary Jane Rubio, 2 months.
The two are being tried separately.
In her first confession to police, Camacho said that days before the murders, the children began acting strange and crying a lot.
“We felt someone had put some type of spell on our children,” she said.
Just as Rubio told police in statements already entered in evidence, Camacho said the children were killed because they appeared to be possessed as the result of witchcraft.
She said the concerned parents rubbed an egg on Julissa and dropped it in a container of water to check for proof of a curse.
“The way the egg floated told us something has happened to Julissa,” she said.
The practice is common in faith healing when treating a person afflicted with mal ojo, or “evil eye.”
The following morning, Camacho recanted her statement.
“It was not true,” she told detectives Samuel Lucio and Thomas Clipper on March 12.
“The real reason we killed the children was because of money problems,” Camacho said.
The financial pressures mounting on the impoverished family became so great on the day the rent was due, they decided to kill the children, she said.
“Better for the children to die rather than suffer,” she said Rubio told her.
The day before the killings, the family received a letter informing them that they would stop receiving food stamps because Julissa’s Social Security number did not match her birth certificate. They also were slated to lose Medicaid benefits.
The decision to kill the children was made together, but it was Rubio’s idea to decapitate them, Camacho said in the video statement, which was played for jurors.
Defense attorneys questioned Camacho’s truthfulness because of the conflicting statements and asked if Camacho was aware of her rights when she spoke to police.
A trial date for Camacho has not been set, pending a determination of her competence.
Since Camacho told officers she was a special education student, a slow learner and a high school dropout, defense lawyer Nat Perez asked police Detectives Chris Ortiz and Alberto Luis De Leon why those facts did not raise red flags for them.
Perez’s objection was overruled and jurors heard Camacho’s statements.
Jurors are to finish viewing the video when the trial resumes today.