Stepmother Faces Murder Charge in Boy's Death - 8 News NOW

Stepmother Faces Murder Charge in Boy's Death

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LAS VEGAS -- More than a year after a young boy died from a ruptured appendix, his stepmother is facing a murder charge.

Kalinda Mercado, 42, was arrested one week ago for the death of 12-year-old Emmanuel Austin Mercado who died Feb. 4, 2012 after suffering more than a week with appendicitis.

The boy's biological mother spoke exclusively to 8 News NOW about why she thought, from the very beginning, there was something more to her son's death. Starr Flores will soon head to court to face the woman who is charged with killing her son, Austin, who is also known as Emmanuel.

"I miss him every breath I take," she said.

Austin was rushed to University Medical Center on Feb. 3, 2012 after suffering a cardiac arrest. He died the next day.

"I try not to think about that day. It haunts me," Flores said.

In the arrest report, it's revealed an autopsy showed Emmanuel Austin Mercado died from peritonitis due to a ruptured appendix and that medical neglect was a contributing factor.

Read the Arrest Report for Kalinda Mercado

According to the arrest report, the boy had been suffering with vomiting and pain since Jan. 27, 2012. A school nurse told Kalinda Mercado that she suspected appendicitis and she should take him to the doctor as appendicitis can be life threatening. The report said Mrs. Mercado believed the boy was faking his pain to avoid going to class.

The child returned to the school nurse's office on Feb. 3. The report described him as looking dehydrated, weak, pale and having blue fingertips. He was having difficulty walking. In the arrest report, the school's assistant principal said Mercado appeared only concerned with the child's attendance record and behavior. She was once again advised to get the boy medical attention. Mercado was en route to a late afternoon doctor's appointment when Austin went into cardiac arrest in the car. The report states there was earlier doctor appointments available but Mercado chose a later one.

Flores was at her son's bedside before he died.

"There was a bunch of machines and his stomach was busted open. I go, oh my God, oh my God what happened to my baby?'

Kalinda Mercado's attorney, Lawrence Hill, said the murder charge came as a surprise.

"My client Kalinda Mercado Diep is a great mother," he said.

Hill says his client loves all of her children and wouldn't do anything to intentionally hurt them.

"Ms. Mercado did everything she could. Her only sin is not being able to recognize the symptoms."

Flores says she has reported Mercado and her ex-husband to Child Protective Services many times over the years alleging abuse and neglect.

"I thought my kid's dad would protect him, but he didn't," Flores said.

"I can still feel his hands, his touch. His smile just lit up the room," Flores said.

Mercado is due in court Tuesday. According to her lawyer, she paid her $100,000 bail and is due to be released to her family Tuesday evening.

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