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Father of abused Meridian 9-year-old pleads guilty to murder

Erik Osuna did not intervene as his wife beat, starved and berated his 9-year-old son for months leading up to the little boy's death.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — A Meridian man who did not intervene as his wife beat, starved and berated his 9-year-old son for months leading up to the little boy's death has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder.

Erik Osuna, 31, admitted to the charge on Wednesday. Monique Osuna, the child's stepmother, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last month.

The couple was arrested in September 2020 after paramedics found 9-year-old Emrik Osuna lying motionless on his family's floor, covered in bruises and his own vomit. 

Nanny cameras inside the apartment had recorded weeks of horrific abuse, showing Monique Osuna hitting and kicking Emrik, dragging him by his hair, forcing him to sleep in a hall closet, and making him do hours upon hours of exercises like jumping jacks and wall sits - sometimes for as long as 20 hours in a single day, detectives testified. 

Credit: Ada County Jail
Erik Osuna

By contrast, Erik Osuna was less involved in torturing the boy, according to prosecutors, but did not intervene to help him or get him medical attention, even when it was clear the 9-year-old was on the brink of death. 

In one video played in court, Erik is seen approaching his emaciated son - who had collapsed unconscious on the kitchen floor in exhaustion after hours of forced exercise - to wake him up and tell him to keep going. 

Erik Osuna later told police that Emrik had begun throwing up the morning of Sept. 1 after his stepmother beat him with a dog leash. Monique Osuna then made the child do a one-legged stand, for some time, but eventually allowed him to lie down on the floor. 

The 9-year-old's condition worsened through the day. Around 5 p.m., Erik texted his wife that they should take Emrik to the emergency room, but neither adult sought medical attention for the boy. 

At 9:40 p.m. that night, Emrik stopped breathing, and his father finally called 911, instructing someone else in the apartment to get rid of the nanny cameras before police or paramedics arrived. 

Credit: Ada County Jail
Monique Osuna

Emrik was rushed to a Meridian hospital, then transferred to the pediatric ICU at St. Luke's Children's Hospital in downtown Boise, but did not survive. He weighed just 44 pounds when he died, medical reports found. 

The boy had come to live with his father and stepmother in Idaho in February 2018, after his biological mother was sent to prison for severely abusing his younger siblings. 

At her own plea hearing, Monique Osuna said that she had tried to "discipline" Emrik for his behavior, but the punishments escalated into abuse.

Meridian Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea referenced Emrik's death earlier this week in a post about a different child protection case.  

"We have all heard the stories of far too many kids who have fallen through the cracks of the system and have suffered the ultimate fate.  A year and a half ago, some of our officers and myself carried the casket of a little boy who fell through the cracks, loading him on a plane destined for his final resting place," Basterrrechea wrote. "The Meridian Police Department is determined to stop this from ever happening again."

Emrik was buried in California, where some of his relatives live. Mourners at his funeral dressed as superheroes and Transformers to honor him.

Prosecutors agreed not to seek the death penalty for either parent in exchange for their murder pleas. Both Erik and Monique Osuna face up to life in prison without parole at their sentencings June 9. 

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