San Jacinto parents charged in toddler’s 2016 death
Assault and cruelty charges were filed Feb. 23 and a warrant was issued March 2 against Tamara Barker and Malick Harris, the San Jacinto parents of one-year-old Deborah Harris – more than a year after the child died in February 2016, according to court records.
One count of assault on a child younger than 8 causing great bodily injury or death was levied against San Jacinto residents, both 23. They were also charged with three counts of willful child cruelty in the alleged abuse of the couple’s three other daughters.
Neither Barker nor Harris have entered pleas as of yet.
“We have turned over the case to homicide investigators and served arrest warrants,” said Sgt. Duckett with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, Hemet Station. “We are currently in the process of extraditing the suspects to Riverside County from Gillette, Wyoming.”
The suspects have refused extradition at this point, says Duckett, so an extradition hearing will be held in Wyoming before the suspects can return to Riverside County for trial.
The cause of Deborah Harris’ death was “chronic physical abuse and neglect,” according to the arrest warrant declaration, written by Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Detective Alberto Loureiro.
Barker alleged at the time of Deborah’s death, that she found her daughter choking on her own vomit Feb. 18, 2016, and was unsuccessful in attempts at CPR. Child Protective Services took the remaining daughters, ages 4, 3, and 5 months at the time. Barker alleged that Deborah was “mentally slow,” but was a sweet girl.
The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department confirmed at the time that it was investigating the death, but did not disclose the nature of the investigation.
Loureiro stated in his declaration that when investigators first found Deborah, “she appeared to be very thin and malnourished.” Coroner’s investigators later found bruises all over her body, she had been suffering from dehydration, had blood clots on her skull and forehead, and suffered left femur and rib fractures. While some injuries occurred weeks prior to the child’s death, doctors believe some of the injuries were caused by blunt-force trauma.
Exams conducted on Barker and Harris’ other daughters revealed healing fractures on the 5-month-old and the 3-year-old. Barker originally explained the large police presence at the time of Deborah’s death as a routine death investigation.
Hemet man arrested for impersonating a police officer
On March 14th, a Riverside County Sheriff’s Deputy in their personal vehicle was travelling on Winchester Road near Murrieta Hot Springs Road contacted the Riverside Sheriff’s Dispatch Center after a white Dodge Dart vehicle pulled behind them and activated emergency lights and a siren.
The deputy reported that the driver of the Dodge Dart had activated two flashing lights in the upper windshield area of the vehicle with an audible police style siren. The off-duty deputy, suspicious of the vehicle, did not pull over. After the deputy did not yield to the lights and siren, the driver of the Dodge Dart passed them and continued eastbound on Winchester Road. The deputy was able to access their cellular phone and take a picture of the suspicious vehicle’s license plate number.
Southwest Sheriff’s Station personnel received the information and conducted an investigation into the alleged impersonation of a police officer. The vehicle captured in the photograph by the deputy was located within the city of Hemet. Upon inspecting the vehicle, Sheriff’s deputies located LED light strips in the upper windshield area and a public address system installed on the vehicle.
The registered owner of the vehicle, Johnnie Sellers, 21, of Hemet, was arrested and booked into the Southwest Detention Center for impersonating a police officer. Anyone with information related to this case is encouraged to contact Sgt. J. Wade at the Southwest Sheriff’s Station at (951) 696-3000.