Neighbors: Never saw warning signs in Levelland capital murder - FOX34 Lubbock

Neighbors: Never saw warning signs in Levelland capital murder

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LEVELLAND, Texas -

 

A neighbor of 25-year-old, Samantha Mathis said the mother of two lived in her house for about three months. Oralia Garza lived next door for 18 years.

"We've never had problems since I've been here, never," Garza said,

Garza said she would see Mathis outside and say hello, but never anything more.

"We used to see them outside playing around," Garza remembered. "We never heard crying, abuse or anything like that."

Sergeant Shawn Wilson at the Levelland Police Department said child abuse is often covered up.

"Bruises can easily be masked by claiming that the child was playing and got hurt while playing with other kids or falling on toys and stuff like that," he said. "Depending on the severity of the abuse you have to question if that mark really looks like that really happened. Does that story really make sense?"

Mathis took her 2-year-old son, Elijah Lebario, to the hospital Tuesday afternoon. He died about two hours later.

"The child was covered in bruises throughout the majority of his body," Wilson described. "He had a very low internal body temperature at that time."

After police questioned Mathis, they charged her with Capital Murder. They later charged her boyfriend, 30-year-old Robert Garza Jr. with the same. Since Tuesday they were charged with injury to a child. CPS examined Mathis' 4-year-old son and found he too suffered from injuries from abuse.

"People were putting flowers and candles out there and a couple came and picked him up and said he was home," Garza explained.

If convicted, Mathis and Garza face the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Sergeant Wilson said it could be two to three years before they're sentenced.

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