A court hearing on July 7 will determine custody of a 4-year-old boy named Angel who, according to police, was left for dead on the side of the road Tuesday by his father.
Angel was found wandering along Interstate 20 midway between Lubbock and Saginaw, near Sweetwater. He is now out of the hospital after doctors removed hundreds of cactus needles stuck in his body.
Angel's father, Carlos Rico, 22, from Lubbock, is charged with endangering a child.
According to Sweetwater Police Chief Jim Kelly, Rico and Angel were headed to see family in Saginaw. After stopping and tossing Angel out of his truck, Rico traveled to Eastland where he stopped a gas station and told people he killed his child.
"As he was getting back into his pickup there was a dead bird on the grill of his pickup and the bird told him the son is not dead. He gets to Saginaw where he was talking to his brother, his brother is trying to get him to tell him where the child is. He can't give him a good explanation," said Kelly.
Later, Rico's brother told him to confess to authorities in Saginaw.
Rico told police he choked his son before leaving him. He described it as a religious experience, Kelly said. Rico said God told him to kill his son.
Kelly said officers will bring Rico back to Sweetwater from Saginaw on Wednesday night.
Sweetwater basketball coach Al Hunt found the young boy around 6:30 a.m. while driving his son to a golf tournament, Kelly said. The boy was thought to be tossed on the side of the road at about 3 a.m.
Angel had more than 400 cactus spines in his body when found, and Kelly said the Rolling Plains Memorial hospital had to sedate him to get the spines out.
"Nobody had a clue who this child was, but he was an angel. The nurses were wonderful they adopted this child," said
The tragic story quickly spread to the community. People brought food, toys and clothes for the young boy, and his stepmother — Isabelle Serna, 18 — came from Lubbock to be with him in the hospital.
"She's essentially the only mom she's ever known," said Kelly.
Angel is now out of the hospital and in Child Protective Services custody.
CPS spokeswoman Marleigh Meisner tells us Angel will remain with them until they do a full investigation. Meisner says they usually want to keep children with their family, a policy they will take into consideration with this case.
The DA will have a grand jury decided if Rico's charges will be upgraded to attempted capital murder, Kelly said.
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