ORANGE, Calif. -- A judge on Thursday ordered life-support measures other than nutrition and hydration to be discontinued for a 1-year-old boy who has been in a coma-like state for 10 months after he was allegedly beaten by his father.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard E. Behn found that Christopher Ibarra was in a persistent, vegetative state, neurologically devastated and was receiving no benefits from life support.
"Christopher's chances of recovery are zero," the judge said.
The ruling could ultimately result in murder charges being filed against Moises Ibarra, 24, the child's father. He was jailed on felony child abuse charges after allegedly beating and shaking his son on Dec. 17. The judge stayed his ruling on life-support pending a possible appeal by the father.
During the brief hearing, the judge also ordered continuation of the boy's pain medication. However, the boy will eventually be removed from a ventilator if a possible appeal is not upheld.
Behn made a plea to the audience to "keep Christopher in your prayers and thoughts as I have for the past few months."
Behn took jurisdiction over making medical decisions for Christopher in May after he faulted both parents for the boy's condition. He said Ibarra inflicted the near-fatal injuries and Tamara Sepulveda, 23, failed to protect her son.
"Life is hope, and Christopher has no hope," Behn said. "He deserved better from his parents."
The ruling Thursday came after a series of hearings that included an appeal from Michael Hughes, Moises Ibarra's attorney, not to disconnect the boy from life support. He said there was hope for the boy as long as he is alive.
However, several medical experts testified earlier that Christopher suffered massive brain damage.
Sepulveda had asked to have life-support discontinued, saying she doesn't want her son to live the rest of his life hooked up to machines.
"I just want the best for my child," she said after the ruling. "I want him to go to heaven."
Sepulveda had no message for the boy's father.
"I'm not angry," she said. "I'm just hurt. I'm miserable this whole thing happened."
The judge said he based his ruling on the fact that the boy's bones were brittle and breaking, and that he had painful reactions to light and touch, such as the changing of his diapers.
The boy's grandmother, Susan Sepulveda, 47, said the family would fight any appeal by the boy's father. She characterized Moises Ibarra's opposition as a "fight for his life."
Tamara Sepulveda said she has not visited her son in months.
"It's kind of difficult," she said. "He's not there. He's not the same child he was before."