WILLS POINT (CBSDFW.COM) – Mourners filled an East Texas funeral home to say goodbye to a two-year-old boy who authorities say died after being whipped with a belt.
Eddie Herrera walked behind a child size coffin carrying his 2-year-old son Brandon. It’s the latest gut wrenching image from East Texas where the boy’s death has devastated a family and outraged complete strangers.
“He was just an outgoing little boy,” says Gracelia Gonzalez, Brandon’s Aunt.
A little boy who we now know had a life of struggle behind the smile. Family members say Brandon had special needs and a prosthetic leg. It makes details of his death allegedly at the hands of a couple caring for him even harder for his relatives to accept. “The Texas justice system has failed my brother,” says Zachary Adams, a family friend.
While mourners released their emotions during a memorial service for Brandon in Wills Point, Gabriela Ortiz and Arturo Vega sat in the Hunt County Jail charged with Capital Murder. Ortiz is accused of hitting Brandon in the face while Vega reportedly confessed to striking him at least ten times with a belt because the boy wouldn’t stop crying.
The two appeared for a judge on Wednesday in bullet proof vests and have received threats. “I wish there was a stiffer penalty for people who do things to kids like that, good thing they’re in protective custody they better hope that they never get out,” says Russell Gleghorn, a family friend.
Relatives of Eddie Herrera say Brandon’s mother should face criminal charges for leaving the child to stay with the couple instead of his father. “I’m very angry, my family is very angry, and what we’re asking for is all the help we can get from everybody to get these people behind bars all three,” says Gonzales.
Brandon’s mother didn’t attend her son’s funeral. Those who did say they will be haunted by photos that are all that remain of the two-year-old’s life. “Those big eyes those big blue eyes they just popped out everytime I close my eyes I see his face,” says Gonzales.
Brandon was buried on the ranch of a family friend in Van Zandt County.