Couple plead not guilty in infant's death

The Press Enterprise, April 7, 2000
By Tim Grenda

A high Desert pastor and his wife pleaded not guilty on Thursday to charges that they starved their 5 month old son to death. mark and Janette Boesch of Apple Valley were ordered to remain in custody, with bail set at $1million, and to return to San Bernardino county Superior Court next week to schedule a preliminary hearing to determine if they will face trial.

Outside court, friends of the couple defended them as "good Christian people" who, in their opinions wouod never intentionally kill their child as prosecutors have alleged.

"She's been a wonderful, wonderful mother," said Joella Yon of Hesperia. "I've never, ever seen any abuse to those children, The were just a wonderful family as far as I was concerned."

Mark Boesch, the 42 year-old pastor of Grace Chapel of the Desert Ch urch in Hesperia, and his 39 year old wife were arrested Wednesday and charged with murder and willful crueltly to a child in the death of Timothy Boesch, the ounges ot the couple's eight children.

The boy wa born healthy on June 9, weighing seven pounds, 12 ounces. officials said. But he was found dead Nov. 8 inside the family's Apple Valley home in the 21000 block of Del Oro Road. He weighed just over six pounds and an autopsy later determined tht the cause of death wa ssevere malnutrition that lasted for months. Janette Boesch reportedly told police after the boy's death that she was breat-feeding the child and had refussed a doctor's recommendation to supplement the breast milk when the doctor noted the child's emaciated condition shosrtly before he died.

Yon, who attended Calvary Chapel in Hesperia with the couple bevore the Boesches left to start town church , said the couple's religious beliefs do not forbid them from seeking traditional medical care for children.

The family's home was stocked with food when the boy died and the other children appeared to be in find condition, police said. the couple's seven other children , all boys ages 2 to l5 were placed in the care of the San Bernardino County Dept. of Child Protective servvices after thei parents were arrested, officials said.

As the couple sat sombe-faced in the courtroom and faced television news cameras, a woman identified by friends of the family as Mark Boesch's mother sobbed.

She and other family members declined to comment about the couple or the criminal charges against them. Yon said she visited the family frequently and saw the baby boy briefly for the first and only time about one month after he wa born. Another friend Lind Kleiner, said outside the courhouse that the couple would never allow their child to wither away and die.

"We know them and we know there's no way they murdered their child," Kleiner said,"Why would they do that?"

Kleiner called teh $1million bail ordered by Superior Court Commisioner Patrick I Singer "absolutely ridiculous". "I've seen people who shot someone and got less bail and media attention than this, "she said, noting the seven Los Angeles area television news crews that covered the sotry.

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