Mom Who Fled To Mexico After Young Son’s Death Was On Federal Probation At The Time

Erika Asusenna Parra [Photo courtesy Cochise County Sheriff's Office]

A 23-year-old Douglas woman is in the Cochise County jail awaiting formal arraignment Monday on child abuse charges involving two of her four children, including one killed in January 2020 by Parra’s then-boyfriend.

Erika Asusenna Parra of Douglas was taken into custody by Mexican authorities early Thursday morning in Agua Prieta, Sonora, and taken to the Douglas Port of Entry where she was transferred to U.S. officials. She will be arraigned Dec. 6 in Cochise County Superior Court to stand trial on felony child abuse charges stemming from the death of her son Emilio Smith.

Parra was also the subject of a federal warrant assigned to the U.S. Marshals Service for absconding from a three-year term of supervised federal probation for a 2018 conviction for possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute.

But it is events surrounding Emilio Smith’s death that will take priority.

It was on Jan. 5, 2020 that medical professionals at a Douglas hospital contacted police when Emilio, age 30 months, was admitted with obvious signs of abuse. The boy, who was unresponsive, died a few days later at a Tucson trauma hospital.

At the time, Parra was dating Mario Alberto Toscano Jr, with whom she already had a daughter. Another daughter with a third man was being cared for by someone else.

Court records show Emilio was subjected to ongoing abuse from Toscano, 23, including being kicked, in the weeks before his death. Toscano was arrested on suspicion of first degree murder and recently pleaded guilty to second degree murder.

But shortly after Emilio died, Parra gave birth to another son in early 2020 around the same time a Cochise County grand jury handed down a felony indictment and arrest warrant in her name for child abuse.

Parra’s older children were safe, but she and the newborn could not be found. Family and friends, however, believed she had crossed into Agua Prieta, a city of 92,000 across the border from Douglas.

Thursday’s arrest was made possible by a reward offered by Emilio Smith’s paternal family for information about Parra’s whereabouts. Last week the family relayed a tip to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office and it was shared with officials in Agua Prieta.

Video recorded Thursday by the Smith family shows Parra accompanied to the border crossing by several Mexican law enforcement officers. A spokeswoman for the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office says a one-year-old boy transferred with Parra was turned over to the Arizona Department of Child Safety.

Rosalva Smith, Emilio’s grandmother, confirmed to Arizona Daily Independent that a $1,000 reward was paid out following Parra’s arrest. Several family members intend to be in the courtroom during Parra’s Dec. 6 arraignment, she said.

Read more by Terri Jo Neff >>

Meanwhile, Toscano remains in the Cochise County jail awaiting for his transfer to the Arizona Department of Corrections as soon as his official sentencing paperwork is completed.

Toscano was on probation at the time of Emilio’s death for convictions from 2019 of shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia. He pleaded guilty in October for his role in Emilio’s death and was sentenced last month to 27 years in prison for the murder conviction, with no option of early release.

Upon completion of that sentence Toscano will begin a 10-year prison term on a child abuse charge which is eligible for early release once Toscano serves 8.5 years.

Toscano previously served time in state prison for a 2016 felony marijuana conviction. His 2019 probation was resolved as part of the plea deal in the murder case.