Local

Cheary to face murder; sexual assault charges in Sophia Acosta case

Thursday, June 02, 2011
Three weeks after a Sophia Acosta was brutally beaten to death, police have arrested the boyfriend of the childs mother, Chris Cheary.

Christopher Cheary will face murder and sexual assault charges in the Sophia Acosta child murder case.

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Three weeks after a young South Valley girl was brutally beaten to death, police have arrested the boyfriend of the child's mother.

Friday, the Tulare County District Attorney's office said Christopher Rey Cheary will be arraigned on Monday, June 6th at 1:10 p.m. Cheary will face charges of murder, felony assault on a child causing death, sodomy on a child under 14 years old, and felony sodomy.

Exeter Police arrested 20-year old Christopher Cheary around 6 p.m. Thursday night in Stanislaus County. Cheary is accused in the murder of three-year-old Sophia Acosta last month. He was escorted by officers to be booked in the Tulare County Jail early Friday morning.

The reaction has been strong in the town of Exeter which has been the scene of numerous vigils since this crime first came to light. When they heard news of Chris Cheary's arrest, several community and family members gathered at Triangle Park to light candles and at the police station to hear what detectives had to say about the case.

Sophia Acosta's great grandmother was overcome with emotion when she heard Chris Cheary, Acosta's mother's live-in boyfriend, had been arrested for the three-year-old's murder.

"She loved me and I loved her and she never wanted to go home she wanted to stay with me all the time and until he come along she was at my house every day," said Ruth Williams, Sophia's great grandmother, "I'm happy they arrested him that's where he belongs but it's only just begun."

News of the arrest spread quickly around a town waiting weeks for justice for the little girl.

"I'm not shocked because we knew it... it's upsetting, still it's one closer to justice, one step closer," said Cheyenne McDonald of Exeter.

Exeter Police officers found Sophia Acosta unresponsive in an Exeter apartment on May 7th. She died four-days later in Children's Hospital in Madera County. Autopsy results show she was physically abused. Investigators are still waiting on lab results to see if she may have been sexually abused as well.

Family members had been notified a day before that an arrest was planned. "We had people stomping their feet want an arrest... We'd much rather a good arrest than a quick arrest," said family member Nick Williams.

Exeter Police thanked the family and the community for their patience all along. "We did an intense investigation... that's why it took so long. We thank the public and the City of Exeter for being patient with us, and the family for being patient with us, while we did our investigation," said Sgt. Celis Rabena.

Sophia's mother, Erika Smith, remains a person of interest in this case.

Community members will be gathering here in Triangle Park once again Friday night at 6 p.m. to hold another candlelight vigil. They hope the gathering and this arrest brings a sense of closure for the South Valley city.

Sophia Acosta's father, Obie Acosta, came to Exeter once he heard the news of Chris Cheary's arrest. "Right now there's a lot of emotions going through my head. Right now and just to know that he's right here, it's kind of getting to me but I'm just glad that they got him in custody already."

Obie said he and Sophia's mother, Erika Smith, have another child together. That child remains with Child Protective Services.

Stay with Action News for the very latest developments in this case.

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Christopher Rey Cheary will be arraigned Monday, June 6 at 1:30pm at the Pretrial.

Count 1- Murder
Special allegations:

1-Murder committed while engaging in the commission of the crime of sodomy

2-Murder committed while engaging in the commission of the crime of Performance of a lewd act on a child under the age of 14

3-Murder was intentional and "involved the infliction of torture"

Count 2-Felony Assault On A Child Causing Death

Count 3- Sodomy on a child under 14 years OLF
Special allegations:

1-"Defendant inflicted aggravated mayhem or torture on the victim"

2-"Defendant inflicted great bodily injury"

3-"Defendant personally inflicted bodily harm on the victim who was under 14 years of age"

Count 4-Felony sodomy
Special allegations:

1-"Defendant inflicted aggravated mayhem or torture on the victim"

2-"Defendant inflicted great bodily injury"

3-"Defendant personally inflicted bodily harm on the victim who was under 14 years of age"

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Tags:
exeter, tulare county, crimetracker, murder, local
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