Charges filed in killing of 2-year-old Thermal boy

INDIO, Calif. - A murder charge was filed today against a Thermal man suspected in the beating death of a 2-year-old boy.

Daniel Rodriguez Valenzuela, located Sunday near the border in Calexico, is accused in the May 17 death of Jorge Lizarraga.

Valenzuela, 24, was being held in the county jail in Indio on $1 million bail and is scheduled to be arraigned this afternoon at Indio's Larson Justice Center.

Authorities received a medical aid call involving the toddler in the 88000 block of Airport Boulevard in Thermal. The boy was taken a hospital, where he was pronounced dead from blunt force trauma, according to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

About 2 a.m. Sunday, sheriff's detectives got a tip that Valenzuela, called "a person of interest" in the case, was near the border crossing in Calexico, sheriff's Sgt. Jeff Buompensiero said.

Shortly before midnight, Valenzuela, a passenger in a vehicle, tried to cross the border in downtown Calexico, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"During a routine query of law enforcement databases, the CBP officer discovered that Valenzuela was wanted on a warrant for suspicion of homicide out of Riverside County," Customs spokesman John Campos said.

Customs officers used a fingerprint identification system to confirm Valenzuela's identity, and he was later turned over to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, Campos said.

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