MERCER COUNTY, Pa. — A Pennsylvania father charged in the death of his teenage son, whose body was found emaciated in a Mercer County home, was in court Friday, Oct. 25 for his arraignment.
Antonio Gonzalez, 33, was charged with criminal homicide and child abuse.
On his way into Magistrate Daniel Davis’ office on Friday, Gonzalez addressed reporters, saying, “I tried being a father, and I did the wrong thing by not believing what he said.”
The father, whose bond was denied, added he wasn’t doing anything to intentionally hurt this son.
A neighbor who didn’t want to go on camera said he called the police in September because he felt like something was going on.
“He lied to me constantly, and I did not believe him when he said he was hurting,” Gonzalez said of his son. “He injured himself constantly.”
When asked whether he was responsible for his son’s death, Gonzalez replied: “Turns out that I might be. I wasn’t trying to do anything like this.”
Gonzalez’s friend, Paul Bacorn, 29, was also charged in the case, facing counts of criminal conspiracy and endangering the welfare of a child.
Bacorn lived in a separate trailer on the property and told police he took care of the boy and his sister when Gonzalez wasn’t home.
He was also arraigned Friday but did not say anything on his way into court.
Gonzalez’s son weighed only 70 pounds at the time of his death. His body was found inside his father’s home on District Road in a rural part of Delaware Township.
“It was squalor conditions,” State Police Lt. Dan Ekis said. “It was in a country setting. The victim was found just inside the trailer. It wasn’t conditions that children should be living in.”
The teen lived in the home with his father and his 4-year-old sister, police said. The boy attended cyber school, and Gonzalez logged him into school so he wouldn’t get in trouble for missing class, officials said.
The family’s fridge was on the porch, officials said, and there was a motorcycle chain and padlock around it to keep the animals out.
“You could count every one of his ribs,” Mercer County DA Pete Acker said. “They were protruding and his legs were like pencils.”
There were also allegations that Gonzalez would make the teen hold his hands above his head for hours, as punishment.
“There was a complaint that the boy was taken outside and hosed down,” Acker said.
Officials believe the boy died Wednesday night, Oct. 23. He was found on Thursday lying on his back on a tarp in the hallway.
Children and Youth Services took custody of the boy’s little sister. Authorities said she was average weight and seemed to be in good health, but she was going to be evaluated as a precaution.
Police said Gonzalez moved the children to Mercer County about a month and a half ago from Allegheny County. According to state police, the children’s mother died a few years ago.
Gonzalez and Bacorn were being held in the Mercer County Jail.