Conviction overturned in case of brutal child abuse

Conviction overturned in case of brutal child abuse
Loni Venegas
TACOMA - An appeals court has overturned the conviction of a woman who prosecutors say brutally abused her husband's 12-year-old grandson for years.

Loni Venegas cut her step-grandson's leg with a fork, then poured vinegar over the wound on at least one occasion, prosecutors said. She is also accused of choking the boy until he nearly passed out and beating the bottoms of his hands and feet with a bamboo stick.

But the appeals court ruled Tuesday that Venegas was denied a fair trial due to the trial judge improperly excluding some testimony from a doctor who treated the victim for injuries and improperly admitting two pieces of evidence.

Loni's husband Remil has been charged with one count of assault of a child in the first degree. Prosecutors say Remil repeatedly punching the boy in the stomach for leaving a leaf blower on the garage floor, just once incident over years of alleged abuse.

The case sparked outrage against the Child Protective Services agency, which admitted in the days after the arrests that it failed the victim by placing him back in the hands of the people accused of abusing him.

Investigators said the boy's teachers and school counselor reported their suspicions to Child Protective Services six different times between May of 2004 and March of 2007 after seeing bruises on the boy. It wasn't until the boy told a neighbor what was happening and the neighbor called police that action was taken.

Pierce County prosecutors said they are reviewing the decision handed down Tuesday have not yet made a decision on whether they will retry Venegas.