Investigators allege Emrik Osuna was beaten, starved and forced to exercise as punishment

By Chris Harris
April 01, 2021 11:30 AM
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Emrik Ozuna
Emrik Osuna
| Credit: GoFundMe

Content warning: This article contains disturbing descriptions of abuse. Reader discretion is advised.

An Idaho judge ruled this week that there is enough evidence against the father and stepmother of 9-year-old Emrik Osuna for their impending murder trials to proceed, PEOPLE confirms.

Online records show that, following a preliminary hearing held Wednesday, Judge Daniel Steckel decided the prosecutions of Erik and Monique Osuna could go forward.

Both defendants will be asked to enter pleas to the first-degree murder charges they face. In addition, Erik Osuna has been charged with evidence tampering, inflicting bodily injury and injury to a child.

The Idaho Statesman and KTVB were in the courtroom for Wednesday's hearing, during which the state laid out its case against the couple.

Emrik Osuna could not be revived by police who responded to a 911 call on Sept. 1, 2020, and found the bruised child not breathing, without a heartbeat, covered in his own vomit, according to Meridian Police. He was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

More than four hours earlier, his father, Erik Osuna, allegedly sent a text to his wife, Monique Osuna, expressing hesitation about taking the boy to seek help, reading, "I know you are scared. I am too."

According to both local news reports, prosecutors argued Wednesday that Emrik died when his body gave out after months of brutal torture and abuse that included forced exercise, starvation and physical beatings.

To substantiate the allegations, prosecutors reportedly played video footage captured by nanny cameras the suspects had installed in their apartment. Two weeks worth of footage was later turned over to police.

The footage allegedly shows Emrik being forced to do vigorous exercises — sometimes, police allege, for up to 20 hours a day. One video allegedly captured Monique grabbing the child by the hair before swinging him through the air and dragging him into a kitchen, where the boy was repeatedly slapped.

The same video allegedly shows Monique later smacking the boy on the head with a spoon while he shrieks, cries and tries to shield himself from the abuse.

Erik and Monique Osuna
Erik and Monique Osuna
| Credit: Ada County Sheriff’s Office (2)

Other videos show Monique Osuna allegedly kicking Emrik across the room and repeatedly hitting him with a frying pan while calling him "a f---ing loser" and "a piece of sh--." She even allegedly threatens to make the child eat his own excrement.

KTVB reports that Erik Osuna can allegedly be seen in the footage hitting Emrik with a belt. The footage also allegedly indicates that, while he was less abusive to the boy, he did little to intervene or prevent his wife from harming his son.

Emrik, investigators testified Wednesday, is never once seen playing with a toy or game over those two weeks. The footage also allegedly showed that Emrik was forced to sleep on the floor or in a closet, and was denied fast food, even as the rest of his family enjoyed it.

Emrik Ozuna
Emrik Ozuna
| Credit: GoFundMe

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After Emrik's death, Erik Osuna allegedly told police his wife had hit the boy twice with a dog leash before giving him some rice and water, which he later threw up. Emrik was instructed to take a shower, after which he was allegedly forced to do a one-legged stand. He was eventually permitted to lie down on the floor, according to KTVB, which cites police.

A friend of the couple, who was allegedly called to their home after Emrik lost consciousness, recalled hearing the boy breathe for the last time. The state alleged in court that Erik tried to conceal the nanny cameras immediately after the couple called 911 — at their friend's urging.

Both reports indicate Emrik looks emaciated in the footage shown Wednesday in court.

The Osunas face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted. Each is being held on a $2 million bond.

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.