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Colorado Couple Charged with Beating and Torturing 5-Year-Old to Death Allegedly Claimed the Child Was Just ‘Being Dramatic’

Mugshot photos.

Brianne Escamilla and Matthew Urias appear in El Paso County Sheriff’s Office photos.

Graphic new details have emerged in the case of a 5-year-old Colorado girl who was allegedly subjected to brutal torture before being murdered by her 27-year-old mother and the woman’s 26-year-old boyfriend earlier this year. Brianne Escamilla and Matthew Urias were arrested last month and charged with one count each of first-degree murder in the death of young Emily Canales, authorities announced last week.

According to a press release, officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department on Jan. 13, 2022 responded to an urgent request from the Colorado Springs Fire Department regarding a young girl whose life firefighters were attempting to save. The child, later identified as Emily Canales, suffered what appeared to be severe physical trauma and was transported to a local children’s hospital. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the facility.

CSPD’s Crimes Against Children Unit and the Homicide/Assault Unit opened an investigation into the child’s suspicious death. The El Paso County Coroner’s Office performed an autopsy on the child and on June 14 concluded that the manner of death was a homicide and the cause of death was “multiple blunt force injuries,” per the release.

Arrest warrants for Escamilla and Urias were granted on June 28 and the department’s Violent Offender Fugitive Task Force was charged with locating and arresting the couple. Urias was taken into custody on June 29. Escamilla was taken into custody on July 5 with the assistance of the Littleton Police Department and the U.S. Marshalls Service.

A detective with the Crimes Against Children Unit detailed what investigators uncovered in a newly released probable cause affidavit obtained by Colorado Springs newspaper The Gazette.

According to the report, both Escamilla and Urias confessed in interviews with detectives to physically abusing Emily prior to her death despite the fact that they could both see the child’s health was in serious decline. They both allegedly confirmed that in her final two days of life, Emily complained of severe stomach pains and fainted on multiple occasions.

When Urias on Jan. 12 suggested that they call an ambulance for Emily, Escamilla allegedly told him that Emily “was being dramatic” about her injuries and scolded him for “also being dramatic,” per the report. Despite his claimed concern for Emily’s health, Urias allegedly told police that even after Emily had fainted multiple times the previous day, he still spanked her on the day of her death. She reportedly fainted again after the spanking and was never revived.

“I regret it 100-percent,” Urias allegedly told detectives when discussing the spanking.

The El Paso County Coroner’s Office also identified at least “20 separate blunt force injuries that could have played a role in [Emily’s] death.” Those injuries included severe and extensive bruising, a lung contusion, brain swelling, internal bleeding, bleeding of the liver, pancreas, and kidney, and several rib fractures. The Coroner’s Office reportedly noted that Emily’s injuries “were consistent with injuries occurring at the hands of another individual.”

Emily was also bald at the time of her death because her mother allegedly shaved her hair off as a form of punishment.

Escamilla reportedly told detectives it was “her fault Emily was dead because she smacked Emily’s head three times in the bathroom,” per the affidavit. However, Escamilla reportedly also claimed that many of Emily’s wounds were self-inflicted, saying the child would often punch herself.

When asked why it took more than six months to arrest Escamilla and Urias for Emily’s death, a spokesperson for CSPD reportedly told El Paso ABC affiliate KVIA-TV that police were awaiting the results of the autopsy from the coroner’s office.

“Well, you would have to talk to the coroner’s office about what took that amount of time for them to make the ruling that it was a homicide,” Lt. Pamela Castro reportedly told the station. “We’re not going to arrest somebody and charge them with first-degree murder if it hasn’t actually been a homicide. And the causing determination (of death) is made by the coroner’s office.”

The coroner’s office did not immediately respond to a message from Law&Crime.

[image via Colorado Springs Police Dept.]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.