LOS ANGELES — A 33-year-old man accused of fatally stabbing his three young sons inside an SUV in South Los Angeles last week was ordered jailed without bail Sept. 16 while awaiting arraignment on three counts of murder.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio C. Tapia II ordered Luiz Fuentes to return to court Oct. 7 for arraignment.
Fuentes was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair and appeared to be emotional at times during the brief hearing.
The murder charges, filed Sept. 15 against Fuentes, include the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will decide later whether to seek the death penalty against him.
Fuentes was found around 7 a.m. Sept. 9 when a passer-by saw him sitting in the front seat of the SUV that was parked in the 300 block of East 32nd Street. The man approached the vehicle and saw the children’s bodies inside.
Fuentes was covered in blood and suffering from stab wounds, police said.
Police believe Fuentes stabbed himself. He was hospitalized, then booked on suspicion of murder two days later.
Coroner’s officials identified the children as Alexander Fuentes, 8, Juan Fuentes, 9, and Luis Fuentes, 10.
It was unclear what precipitated the attack, although a pastor said during a vigil at the scene that Fuentes was having financial problems and that he was living in the SUV with the boys.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the county Department of Children and Family Services is investigating whether social workers adequately probed some allegations that the boys were at risk and whether staff responded appropriately to what they learned.
The children’s mother died in 2008. Fuentes had been suffering from depression, The Times reported.
A hotline call to the Department of Children and Family Services in September 2010 reporting abuse of the children led social workers to determine that the allegation was true, the newspaper reported, citing anonymous officials with the department.
Lawyers for the department petitioned the juvenile court to open a case, officials told The Times, and the boys remained in the father’s home until the case was closed about a year later.
Two more hotline calls alleging physical abuse were made in April 2014, sources told The Times. Social workers who investigated the allegations finally marked the claims “inconclusive” last October.