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Idaho Father charged with the hypothermic death of his 11 yr. old daughter

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A Trek to tragedy


By Andrea Jackson

Twin Falls Idaho Times-News writer

A father charged with the hypothermic death of his daughter cried and banged his head against a table Monday in a Shoshone courtroom after a judge read out each charge against him.

Robert E. Aragon, 55, is accused of felony injury to a child and second-degree murder, after two of his children tried to walk nearly 10 miles on their own through feet of snow and freezing temperatures on Christmas to see their mom.

Aragon's family says he's a loving father who shouldn't be in jail for the tragedy.

Authorities from Lincoln and Blaine counties, however, say Aragon's daughter is dead because of his actions.

On Monday, the grieving father also lamented his legal woes.

As 5th District Court Magistrate Mark A. Ingram told Aragon he faces 10 years to life in prison for second-degree murder, he wept, rocked back and forth and quietly muttered, "Oh my god." Then he hit his forehead on the table in front of him.

Deputies from Lincoln County say Aragon let his kids walk after he got his car stuck in a snow drift on West Magic Road at about 9 a.m. - about 10 miles east of the Blaine County line.

Eleven-year-old Sage Aragon died of suspected hypothermia after search and rescue dogs found her by a barbed wire fence the next day, covered in snow, at about 2 a.m.

The search didn't start until police were called by a friend of the children's mother, JoLeta Jenks, at about 7 p.m. and dogs were deployed around 10:20 p.m.

Sage Aragon's brother, Bear Aragon, 12, was found alive at about 9:50 p.m. in a Bureau of Land Management bathroom, near the intersection of West Magic Road and the Magic Dam Road in Camas County. That was 4.5 miles from where the children began walking, and he had hypothermia, was wearing only long underwear, and was treated and released from a local hospital. Due to hypothermia related delusions, he discarded his jacket, pants and shoes, according to the Blaine County Sheriff's Office.

Aragon's family says he shouldn't be in jail, especially under such a high, $500,000 bond.

"My dad, he's a good father," said Aragon's adult daughter, Lorraine Aragon.

Aragon's cousin Kenneth Quintana, who was a passenger in the vehicle, said Aragon did not kill his child.

"I feel that Bob (Aragon) was wrongfully accused of murder," Quintana said. "There's no way that he could have known what was going to happen."

Aragon, who had custody of the children and lives in Jerome, told authorities he thought their mother, who was staying next to the West Magic Lodge, was going to meet the kids on the road, court papers show.

Quintana also said he thought Jenks was going to retrieve the children and thought Aragon and Jenks had coordinated that plan over the phone.

"We thought their mother was going to meet up with the children," Quintana said. "Where was she? How were we supposed to know she wasn't coming?"

But Jenks told the Times-News she disagrees, adding Monday she didn't have a car. "They didn't even call me, telling me they were walking," she has said.

Lincoln County authorities also say the road was undriveable due to snow drifts, according to court papers.

Quinatana sobbed Monday over a phone line, while repeatedly defending Aragon.

"He didn't send those kids out there to die," said Quintana. "He just wanted their mother to spend Christmas with them."

Quintana says he and Aragon searched and yelled out for the children for at least four hours, with towels wrapped around their heads, but they stopped as hypothermia set in. He said he had no cell phone reception in the search area.

'They found her (Sage Aragon) a mile and a half from where I turned around," Quintana said. "If we had kept going, we could have gotten her in time. I just couldn't go anymore, I was so tired. The whole time, we were yelling for the children, our eyes and throat were wind burnt."

Ultimately, the children separated, and Sage Aragon began walking back to the highway, according to the Blaine County Sheriff's Office.

"I just wish she would have stayed with her brother," said Quintana.

Aragon asked the court to lower his bond on Monday. "I think that's way too high," he said in the Shoshone courtroom.

And Quintana agreed his family can't afford that high of a bond.

Judge Ingram on Monday set a bond review hearing for Wednesday, appointed a public defender for Aragon, and scheduled a pretrial for Jan. 7.

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