Suspects in Tulare child abuse case charged for torture, abuse

Tulare County DA charges Michael Francis, Priscilla Roshell with two counts of torture, child abuse for two children ages 5, 8

VISALIA – Suspects in the Tulare child abuse case have been charged with crimes against two of three victims that carry a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

On Dec. 19, District Attorney Tim Ward announced criminal charges against Michael Francis, 46, and Priscilla Roshell, 27. Last week, Tulare Police responded to a 9-1-1 call regarding an unresponsive two-year-old female who succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. The incident led officers to two other children ages 5 and 8. Both Francis and Roshell were charged with two counts of torture and child abuse under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death. 

The DAs office is waiting to file additional charges until medical examiners determine the official cause of death of the third victim, the deceased two-year-old.

Both defendants were arraigned on the charges on the afternoon of Dec. 19, and pleaded not guilty. The court ordered no bail and the defendants are scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing conference on Dec. 27. 

The crimes are alleged to have been committed between Oct. 1, and Dec. 15, 2022, against the two minor victims. The defendants were arrested on Dec. 15, by the Tulare Police Department. 

Tulare police first responded to the incident at approximately 2:36 a.m., when officers responded to the 9-1-1 call regarding the unresponsive two-year-old female. The two-year-old was being transported to a local hospital by Roshell, her mother. When officers made contact with Roshell at the hospital, she was visibly upset. Medical staff performed life saving measures to no avail as the two-year-old was pronounced deceased at the hospital. 

The Tulare Police Department investigations unit was contacted to assist in the investigation. Through the investigation, detectives discovered severe injuries to the two-year-old and learned two additional children, ages 5 and 8 had not been located. With the efforts of Tulare Police Department’s patrol division, the two additional children were located along with Francis, though he is not the father of the children.

Roshell and her friend Francis were later arrested for charges of homicide, torture and child injury in connection with the death of the two-year-old. 

Public information officer sergeant Rosa Moreno said during a press conference on Dec. 16, that Roshell was interviewed at the hospital and “during the interview she did implicate herself in the case.” What she said exactly cannot be released at this time.  Injuries to the other children are going to be evaluated as the investigation continues.

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