The daughter of Kathleen and Kenny Sanchez may be alive today because Kenny hit her in public when she was three-years-old.
This may sound like a strange statement, but the facts of the case, as spelled out in an arrest affidavit on view below, provide a strong argument for it.
As with Evergreen's Katie and Jason Barton, who were accused in recent weeks of practically starving their daughter to death, the Sanchez's child was severely undernourished.
She weighed just nineteen pounds at the time of Kathleen and Kenny's arrest, and the police report notes that without intervention, she was at risk of "permanent organ impairment, liver, brain, and kidney, or possible DEATH."
The capitalization of the last word is in the original document.
Instead, the girl is alive and Kathleen has entered a guilty plea, with Kenny due to make his own court-related appearance today. But it's taken more than three years to get to this point, due largely to the Sanchezes' attempt to flee judgment.
The story began on February 2, 2012 at the DAV Thrift Store in Lakewood.
Kenny, Kathleen and the girl were in the store when Sean Gwynn, a deputy with the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, saw Kenny hit the child in the face.
Although Gwynn, who's featured in a CBS4 report from 2012 below, was off-duty at the time, he immediately called the Lakewood Police Department and reported what he'd seen — and when the LPD couldn't respond immediately, he followed the couple to a furniture store at 2475 West Alameda Avenue.
Officers from Denver and Lakewood arrived at this second location shortly thereafter, and in an interview with an officer from the latter agency, Kenny insisted that he'd hit the girl in the leg, not the face, because she wouldn't stop crying.
At that point, the officer examined the girl and noted "numerous bruises and scratches." Even more alarming, however, was how underweight she appeared to be.
The girl was subsequently taken to Denver Health Medical Center, where photographs showed her with sagging skin, protruding bones and visible ribs, the report says.
Her weight: nineteen pounds.
Meanwhile, Kathleen spoke to investigators. She explained that she and the rest of her family, which included two additional kids (a four-year-old and a two-month-old who were placed in protective custody in the care of a relative), had just arrived in Colorado from Florida four days earlier.
She also said the three-year-old had been treated at a pediatric center in Florida, and that proved to be the case. But reports from the agency showed that the girl had only gained one pound since she was fifteen months old, and the Sanchezes hadn't shown up for at least two followup appointments.
Kathleen disputed these assertions and said the bruises had been caused by the girl's older brother and the family dog. As for why the girl was so underweight, she said "the victim eats all the time and that after she eats, she vomits."
By February, as we reported at the time, prosecutors with the Denver District Attorney's Office had decided to charge Kathleen and Kenny with child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury, as well as for engaging in a pattern of conduct resulting in malnourishment and mistreatment. Here's Kenny's booking photo from that period....
The pair were supposed to go on trial in July 2014, but the DA's office reveals that they failed to turn up, resulting in the issuing of arrest warrants.
They remained at large until December, when they were arrested in Foley, Alabama.
This week, Kathleen pleaded guilty to one count of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. She's expected to remain in custody in advance of a September 4 hearing, at which time she'll be sentenced. The punishment range is ten-to-sixteen years.
Kenny, for his part, has a pre-trial conference slated for July 6. At this writing, we don't know if he, too, will plead guilty, or if his case will proceed to trial.
Below, see more recent booking photos for the Sanchezes that shows changes over the past three years — Kathleen's hair is now dark, for instance — as well as the aforementioned CBS4 report featuring the heroic Deputy Sean Gwynn and the arrest affidavit.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.