Home Christian News Pastor, Family Members To Face Trial in Child’s Alleged Exorcism Death

Pastor, Family Members To Face Trial in Child’s Alleged Exorcism Death

Pictured from left to right: Rene Trigueros Hernandez, Claudia Hernandez-Santos, Rene Aaron Hernandez Santos. Mugshots via YourCentralValley.com.

Police in San Jose, California, have made more arrests in last September’s alleged exorcism death of 3-year-old Arely Naomi Proctor. In addition to the victim’s mother, who was arrested in January, the victim’s uncle and pastor-grandfather also are in custody now, being held without bail.

On Monday, June 13, a judge ruled that prosecutors can try all three family members together, starting August 9. The defendants, charged with felony child abuse resulting in death, could each face a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Exorcism: DA Says Defendants Committed Violence Together

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeffrey Rosen, who had requested the case consolidation, says the defendants worked together, making it impossible “to determine what defendant caused what specific injury.” Arely’s September 24, 2021, death was ruled a homicide by asphyxiation. Court documents indicate she also was denied food, sustained blunt force injuries, and had internal bleeding.

“Each defendant committed acts of physical abuse against Arely…during a 14-hour time frame prior to her death,” Rosen writes. “At times, all three defendants were holding Arely at different parts of her body. It is alleged that one defendant held Arely at the neck, one at the abdomen, and one was holding her legs, as they tried to induce her to vomit.”

Arely’s mother, 25-year-old Claudia Hernandez-Santos, told police she thought her daughter was “possessed” by a demon due to middle-of-the-night crying spells. Last September, the mother and Arely’s uncle, 19-year-old Rene Aaron Hernandez Santos, took a crying Arely to the small, home-based church led by her grandfather, 59-year-old Rene Trigueros Hernandez, aka Rene Huezo.

During the attempted exorcism, prosecutors say, the three adults held down and tortured Arely in front of the altar. Court documents indicate the uncle and grandfather have changed their accounts of events since police conducted initial interviews in September.

Mother of Alleged Exorcism Victim: ‘God Took Her’

In a YouTube video posted days before her January arrest, Claudia Hernandez-Santos says, “A lot of people turned on me after my daughter passed away.” Instead of admitting any role in the tragedy, she says, “God took her” for “many reasons.” About Arely, she adds, “At least she’s not suffering. In this world we suffer so much, especially nowadays. Everything is so bad. Everything is going downhill. That’s what I’m thankful for. That she’s not going to grow up in a world we live in. She’s in a better place. God knows why he allowed these things.”