By Aubrey Wieber

The Bulletin

A state medical examiner said Friday a 5-year-old Redmond girl whose parents are charged in her death died of emaciation.

As Estevan Garcia and Sacora Horn-Garcia appeared in court Friday on charges of murder in the death of their adopted daughter, their house on a quiet street in southwest Redmond stood vacant.

Remnants of a bustling family household, however, were scattered around the home at 3128 SW Metolius Place. Two plump cats roamed the yard, where several pink and purple children’s bikes rested against the house. Scooters and balls lay on the side of the house, adorned with a San Francisco 49ers emblem over the door, and two cars and a boat sat in the driveway.

Garcia, 33, and Horn-Garcia, 31, were arrested Thursday in the death of Maliyha Hope Garcia. According to charging documents, an intentional lack of food and medical attention contributed to the death. Dr. Clifford Nelson, a deputy state medical examiner performed the autopsy Dec. 22, and confirmed her cause of death to The Bulletin on Friday.

The parents are being held without bail. On Friday, Deschutes County Circuit Judge Beth Bagley imposed a gag order on the case, limiting statements from attorneys and investigators involved.

Defense attorney Aaron Brenneman has been assigned to Horn-Garcia’s case, while Shawn Kollie will defend Garcia. Neither argued for a bail amount, and both declined to discuss the case prior to the gag order being imposed.

Neighbors of the couple recalled parents — Garcia and Horn-Garcia — that mostly stuck to themselves. They mentioned three girls who often played in front of the house, riding bikes around. However Maliyha was mostly a stranger until she died Dec. 21.

“In a three-year period, I only saw her out here one time,” said neighbor Kevin Ing, 37. Ing said he saw Maliyha outside about a year and a half ago, and didn’t even realize she was a permanent member of the household. He would chat with Garcia here and there, and attended a Halloween party in 2016 at the Garcia home where the other three girls were present, but not Maliyha. He was shocked when police cars flooded the block the day she died.

“When that whole thing went down, it was flooring,” he said.

Neighbors reported a state agency took custody of the remaining children following the death, and then later returned the children to the home. About a month ago, the children were taken again, several neighbors said.

However, in the months since, Ing said, he found Garcia and Horn-Garcia’s response to the death of the young girl troubling. “To me, it seemed like there wasn’t a whole lot of remorse there,” he said, “especially on her end.”

He said when the couple returned from the hospital following the girl’s death, he didn’t notice anyone crying or appear to be grieving.

“It was just a really weird situation,” he said.

Garcia adopted Maliyha at birth with a former fiancée, according to the fiancée’s mother, Stacey Irvin. Maliyha was Garcia’s niece, and was given up by his sister due to her drug use, Irvin said. Before Maliyha died, the couple was in the process of adopting another baby of Garcia’s sister’s. That baby has since been sent to California, where Garcia’s sister lives, Irvin said.

In the early years, Irvin recalled a loving father.

“He wanted to be a dad so bad,” Irvin said of Garcia. “He was patient; he was such a good dad. So this is something that is totally out of character for him.”

Ing echoed this sentiment, saying Garcia always was friendly and appeared to be a good guy. Neighbors reported having friendly run-ins with him at the Starbucks inside the Redmond Safeway, where Garcia was a manager. A new manager of the Starbucks on Friday declined to comment on the allegations, stating that Garcia’s actions have nothing to do with the coffee kiosk or its employees.

Irvin said when Garcia and her daughter split up, Garcia took care of Maliyha but still stayed in contact with Irvin and the rest of the family. However, once he married Horn-Garcia in 2014, Irvin said communication stopped. When she found out about the death of the girl she considers a granddaughter, she also was shocked. “This is not someone he has been since I have known him,” she said.

Darry Larsen, 29, also lives across the street from Garcia and Horn-Garcia. He said he didn’t have much interaction with the family, but did see young girls pushing around a young baby, about a year old, in a stroller unsupervised outside. He said it prompted chatter among neighbors who thought it was poor parenting, Larsen said.

As far as oversight of Garcia and Garcia-Horn’s parenting goes, it appears as though Oregon Department of Human Services had some sort of contact with the couple regarding Maliyha. However, spokesperson Andrea Cantu-Schomus said the Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office has requested the department withhold all records on Garcia and Garcia-Horn due to the gag order. Garcia and Horn-Garcia have court hearings scheduled for Tuesday morning, when additional court dates will be scheduled, including hearings to enter pleas.

­­—Reporter: 541-383-0376, awieber@bendbulletin.com

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