4-year-old murder victim's mother breaks silence on case

FRESNO, Calif.

15-year-old /*Raul Castro*/ is charged with kidnapping, molesting, and murdering 4-year-old /*Alex Mercado*/. Castro was only 14 at the time, but Action News is showing his face because he's being tried as an adult. The prosecution rested its case Tuesday.

Mindy Mercado has been in tears several times during the trial and she cried again as she spoke to Action News about the case. She said she wants to be there to make sure justice is served, but as she hears the evidence, her heart is breaking all over again.

Mercado says her 4-year-old son lived for the very thing that killed him. "He had a thrill for water," she said. "He really loved water and it just breaks my heart that [water] caused his death."

Coroners say the little boy's cause of death was drowning. Dr. Michael Chambliss says Mercado also suffered blunt force trauma, leaving six bruises on his head -- and not all from the same fall.

"It means that either the child's head was struck against something or the child itself fell against something," Chambliss said.

In a taped interview with detectives, then-14-year-old Raul Castro admitted to having sexual contact with Alex Mercado, then holding the younger boy's head under water.

As the confession played in court, Castro's mother cried right along with Mercado's family. But Alex's mother noticed the defendant listened without emotion.

"I don't see any remorse," Mindy Mercado said. "How can I forgive the individual and his family when I see nothing? I don't see [any] tears."

Mercado says she just wants justice in her son's name. But she realizes even the maximum sentence against Castro won't bring her son back. "Every birthday will come and he won't be here to celebrate," she said. "Every holiday will come and a present will sit under the tree for him. Everything will continue for me to be without him."

The defense takes over Wednesday with an expert witness who will testify that Castro wasn't conscious of his actions as he killed Mercado. After that, it'll be up to the judge to decide whether Castro is guilty.

He faces 47 years to life in prison if he's convicted.

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