Couple Tried to Cross Border With a Dead Child in Bag

They're accused of murder, sex trafficking
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 7, 2016 12:07 AM CDT
Couple Tried to Cross Border With Dead Child in Bag
Johnny Hartley and Mercy Becerra appear in court Aug. 12, 2016, in San Diego.   (Misael Virgen/The San Diego Union-Tribune via AP)

A Los Angeles-area couple has been charged with murder after trying to cross into Mexico with the body of a 2-year-old girl in a duffel bag. Mercy Becerra and Johnny Hartley are also charged with torture, assault on a child causing death, and sex trafficking of the girl's mother, the AP reports. The couple, who were charged last week, remained jailed in Los Angeles County on Thursday and could face life sentences if convicted. Authorities say they were arrested on Aug. 9 at the San Ysidro border station after Mexican authorities X-rayed the duffel bag and discovered the girl's body.

Authorities say the couple trafficked the girl's mother between November 2012 and August of this year. They allegedly took the woman's daughter from her and severely abused the girl, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Prosecutors say the girl, identified in court papers only as "Angelina W," was drowned, and also suffered from malnutrition and dehydration. An anti-sex trafficking activist tells CBS Los Angeles that he suspects the couple held the woman's daughter captive to force her to continue working as a prostitute. (More California stories.)

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