Parents Plead Not Guilty to Child Abduction
LOS ANGELES (CN) - A mother and father pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that they forcibly abducted their four children from their grandmother's home in Boyle Heights and tried to take them to Mexico.
Enrique Felix and Rose Chairez, both 28, appeared at the Foltz Criminal Justice Center on two felony counts of kidnapping, four counts of child stealing, and one count of first-degree burglary with a person present.
L.A. County District Attorney's Office spokeswoman Jane Robison told Courthouse News that the couple will return to the court April 11 for a preliminary hearing before Superior Court Judge Roberto Longoria.
The judge set bail at $570,000 for Felix and $510,000 for Chairez, Robison said.
After Felix and Chairez turned themselves into officials at the United States border on Sunday, Los Angeles police took the couple into custody.
"Rose was crying and upset, and said she was at the Otay Mesa border and wanted to turn herself in with Enrique," LAPD Capt. Martin Baeza told NBC News.
On March 14, the couple took 7-year-old Enrique Felix, 5-year-old Justin Felix and 1-year-old twins Veronica Felix and Janeth Felix from their maternal grandmother's house.
The grandmother, Chairez's mother, has custody of the children.
The kids were found near the border in California after authorities issued a statewide Amber Alert.
After Chairez called the department's Hollenbeck station on Sunday morning, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents detained the couple at the border.
The four children are in foster care until authorities decide if they can return to their grandmother.
"(The grandmother) was happy her daughter Rose was safe," Baeza told NBC. "The bottom line for us is that everybody turned out safe; this is a success story. Sometimes it doesn't work out that well, and in this case it did."
Felix, who has a prior conviction for making a criminal threat and possession for sale of cocaine base, could spend almost 50 years in state prison, prosecutors said. If convicted, Chairez faces almost 20 years in prison.