An Oceanside man accused of killing his 7-year-old daughter stabbed the child 10 times in a bedroom while the victim’s little sister was also inside the family’s home, a prosecutor revealed.
Mariah Araujo was found dead on July 31 in the bathtub of her family’s home on Las Vegas Drive. The Oceanside Police Department said the girl had suffered trauma to her upper body.
Her father – found with blood on his clothing – was arrested on suspicion of killing her.
Pedro Araujo pleaded not guilty at his arraignment.
Judge James Simmons ordered the suspect be held on no bail due to being a danger to the community and his family.
Mariah Araujo suffered 10 stab wounds to her neck and one on her spine, San Diego County Deputy District Attorney Ryan Saunders said. Other wounds were in the shoulder and elbow; some were defensive.
As Saunders detailed the girl's heinous killing during court proceedings, Pedro Araujo hung his head. Some of the victim’s family members were in the gallery and could be heard crying during the hearing.
Saunders said Pedro Araujo could face up to 26 years in prison if convicted on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse.
Mariah Araujo’s mother, Vivian Arzola, was in the courtroom Tuesday. It was the first time she had spoken with reporters.
"He took my daughter," Arzola told Telemundo 20 and NBC 7. "And I want justice for Mariah."
Arzola said she couldn’t even look at the suspect. She didn't want to make eye contact.
"It’s not fair that he took my daughter away from me," she added. "He deserves to be in jail for life."
Arzola said her daughter’s favorite color was purple and, like many girls her age, she was a fan of slime.
According to court documents obtained by NBC 7 last week, Pedro Araujo has a lengthy criminal record that includes arrests spanning the last six years.
In November 2013, Araujo and three relatives were charged with fraud and grand theft. In 2015, Araujo was charged with a misdemeanor of giving false information to law enforcement about his identity.
In 2016, he was charged with felony vandalism and misdemeanor possession of methamphetamine. After this arrest, Araujo was ordered to complete an anger management class. In 2018, he was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and hit and run.
According to police, on the day Mariah Araujo was found dead, Pedro Araujo had called his mother – the victim’s grandmother – asking her to come to the family home on Las Vegas Drive to pick up both Mariah Araujo and her 6-year-old sister.
When the grandmother arrived, she could only find the younger granddaughter. Her son would not let her see Mariah Araujo, police said.
Pedro Araujo's mother noticed blood on her son's shirt, took the younger child from the home and called police.
According to investigators, police had been called to the family’s home within the two weeks before the girl's killing for some sort of incident involving Pedro Araujo.
Mariah Araujo’s grandfather told NBC 7 he owns the family home in Oceanside and had been renting it to Pedro Araujo, who is his step-son. He said Pedro Araujo had full custody of his daughters and was raising them with the help of his mother and step-father.
According to the grandfather, Pedro Araujo was known to become aggressive when he drank alcohol. Arzola told NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 Tuesday that Pedro Araujo has no medical history of mental health issues.
Pedro Araujo’s arraignment was initially scheduled for Aug. 2, but he refused to leave his jail cell that day, postponing the proceedings to this week.
Meanwhile, Mariah Araujo’s family is mourning her death. The girl’s aunt has created a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of her funeral.
A photo posted on the online fundraising page shows a smiling Mariah Araujo wearing a graduation cap.