John Vigil pleads guilty to fatal child abuse case after years in mental hospital
In November 2008, Elijah Archuleta, age two, died due in large part to burns covering 75 percent of his body -- and his mother, Isela Reyes-Talamantes, received a twenty-year sentence for her role in his death circa March 2010.
Big photos below.
Why, then, did it take until the past few days for John Vigil, Reyes-Talamantes' boyfriend, to formally admit to actually causing little Elijah's injuries? Because he's been in the state mental hospital for years and not considered competent to enter a plea.
"He was repeatedly declared incompetent to stand trial," says Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney's Office. "He's been at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo -- but last week, after all these many years, it was declared that he had been restored to competency."
As such, he can finally be punished for actions detailed in the original probable-cause statement in the matter, which, according to Kimbrough, had been sealed until Vigil pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death on Friday. It's on view below in its entirety -- and the details contained within it are absolutely disturbing.
The 900 block of South Osage Street, where Elijah died.
At about 11:45 p.m. on November 7, 2008, the report notes, a Denver police detective was called to St. Anthony's Central Hospital at its previous location, 4231 West 16th Avenue, to investigate Elijah's death. The boy, wrapped in a blanket and clad only in a diaper, had been brought to the facility by Reyes-Talamantes and Vigil, and medical personnel soon determined that he had severe burns and was not breathing. He'd been pronounced dead less than an hour earlier.
A triage nurse subsequently recounted his conversation with Vigil and Reyes-Talamantes. When asked about the shocking injuries, Vigil said the child had burned himself the previous day by accidentally turning hot water on himself while in the bathtub. But he added that the actual reason they'd brought him to the hospital was because he had been choking.
Isela Reyes-Talamantes's booking photo.
The nurse noted that Elijah also had a black eye.
Around that same time, officers were dispatched to the family's home, located at 925 South Osage. There, they interviewed a slew of residents -- four adults and six children. Among them was a four-year old sibling of Elijah's, who told a forensic interviewer that Vigil had burned the child. The sibling also recalled the boy being on the floor and choking, adding that "John John was mad at mommy...because mommy was crying because Elijah had died."
The next day, Reyes-Talamantes sat down with a detective. She claimed that the couple had gone shopping at Walmart, Chipotle and Best Buy, after which Vigil had gone to what she referred to a "court thing." Then they returned home, and Vigil gave Elijah a bath while she listened to music in another room. A short time later, he reemerged with Elijah, who he said had burned himself after turning on the hot water in the tub. He reassured her that the boy would be fine, she went on, and applied burn lotion to his seared skin. But when the child stopped breathing, they rushed him to the hospital.
The timeline, which suggested that the scalding incident had taken place only a short time before the trip to St. Anthony's, contradicted the statement by the nurse, who'd been told the burns had happened the previous day. When confronted about this disconnect, Reyes-Talamantes changed her story.
Continue for more about this tragic case, including full-size booking photos and the probable-cause statement.