A judge ordered a Carthage man to stand trial on felony child abuse and weapon charges following the testimony of his girlfriend and her son Thursday at a preliminary hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court.
The girlfriend testified that Jorge Sanchez-Morales, 36, was drunk and wanting to have sex with her on May 29. When she refused, he got out a machete and was swinging it about in a manner that was threatening, she said.
The girlfriend acknowledged on cross-examination by public defender Joseph Collier that Sanchez-Morales, with whom she had been in a relationship for four years, never did strike her with the machete. She also acknowledged taking the machete to Arkansas a few days later and leaving it with someone else to get it out of their house.
She denied having had a knife in her hand during the incident with the machete during the cross-examination.
The girlfriend's 13-year-old son also took the witness stand to testify at the hearing about an incident in February 2018 when his mother and Sanchez-Morales got into an argument "about the house." The boy said tensions were "very high" between his mother and Sanchez-Morales at the time.
He said he was in his room and did not come out until they seemed to have stopped fighting. But as he emerged from his room, he saw the defendant was choking his mother and went to her aid. He said he punched Sanchez-Morales a couple of times in the back, and the defendant turned on him and started choking him.
The boy said the defendant ceased choking him when his mother started "talking him down." According to the teen, the mother's friend called police when she learned about the incident, and Sanchez-Morales was charged with child abuse.
Associate Judge Joe Hensley decided there was probable cause for the defendant to stand trial on counts of child abuse and unlawful use of a weapon and set Oct. 5 for his initial appearance in a trial division of the court.