They investigated and found scrapes on Josue Contreras-Velasco's ankles that doctors thought "might be consistent with some type of restraint," according to juvenile court records obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune through an public records request.
Evidence of prior abuse also surfaced. In December, 2005, doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center observed "marks" on Josue's body "consistent with inflicted trauma," court records show. Doctors also noted a facial bruise "likely the result of a slap."
Absent evidence of who had perpetrated the abuse, 3rd District Juvenile Judge James Michie allowed Josue to stay with his mother.
But the judge ordered counseling and parenting classes for the mother. And as part of the "family preservation plan," she was supposed to find appropriate child care. She chose the wife of 36-year-old Pedro Gaucin-Canales, one of Josue's alleged killers.
Prosecutors allege that on July 22, Gaucin-Canales ordered Josue into a garbage can in the kitchen of the Melting Pot, 340 S. Main, and had the boy's sister, Rebecca Hernandez-Velasco, retrieve several buckets of ice and cold water, which Gaucin-Canales put into the can.
Josue died of hypothermia after remaining in the ice water for 45 minutes as "a disciplinary measure," according to charging documents.
Gaucin-Canales, 36, and the victim's 19-year-old sister are charged with first-degree felony murder and one second-degree felony count each of child-abuse and obstructing justice.
On Monday, a preliminary hearing was postponed because Gaucin-Canales, who is currently represented by court-appointed attorneys, is trying to hire a private attorney.
Third District Judge Sheila McCleve rescheduled the hearing for Nov. 21 and gave Gaucin-Canales an Oct. 22 deadline for finding his own lawyer.
Following Josue's death, a state attorney urged Judge Michie to order Josue's siblings, an infant boy and 5-year-old girl, into protective custody.
The court-ordered counseling sessions "arguably haven't worked," argued Guardian ad Litem attorney Candace Coy-Dymek on Aug. 6. "I wonder what [Josue] would say today if he was asked whether we should have removed him?"
Lawyers for the mother and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, however, argued in favor of keeping the family intact.
The mother has complied with the court-ordered services "100 percent" and is in no way culpable for her son's death, said her lawyer Brent Salazar-Hall. Removing Josue's siblings would "destroy" the grieving family, said Salazar-Hall.
The children remain at home under DCFS' supervision.
As for the mother's decision to entrust her son to Gaucin-Canales, Hall said, "She's very guarded and doesn't let many people interact with her children...She trusted these people."
DCFS approved the child care arrangement.
Prosecutors have said that the child-abuse count is the predicate for the murder charge. The obstructing charge alleges the defendants initially gave police a false version of events.
The defendants initially told officers they had been working in separate areas of the Melting Pot restaurant before finding the boy unresponsive and not breathing on the floor of the dishwashing area, according to the charges.
In subsequent statements, the defendants said Gaucin-Canales had the boy get into a large garbage can, naked, and had Hernandez-Velasco bring several buckets of ice and cold water, which Gaucin-Canales put into the garbage can, according to charges.
After 45 minutes, Gaucin-Canales took the boy from the can and laid him on the floor, and both defendants tried to revive him, according to the charges.
When the boy did not respond, the defendants agreed on the version of events that they initially told to police, prosecutors allege.
When paramedics arrived at the restaurant, 340 S. Main St., the boy's body temperature was 76 degrees. An autopsy later determined the boy died of hypothermia.
The defendants are Mexican nationals but had provided Melting Pot with the documentation to work in this country.
They are being held at the Salt Lake County jail Monday in lieu of $1 million bail each.
- Reporter Stephen Hunt contributed to this story.