Dad who ‘accidentally’ killed son, 3, took gun to mum’s head to cover up crime
Young mum Emily Quijano was living in Orem, Utah, but she was dreaming of going home to California.
Emily, 23, had big plans for herself and her beloved three-year-old son Gabriel Almiron.
And in 2015 she was on the brink of the next exciting phase of her life.
Since Emily had divorced, she had reverted to her maiden name and as the strong, independent woman she’d always been, she wasn’t daunted about starting again.
Emily had enrolled at college and invested $13,000 (£10,000) to do a massage course.
She was close to graduating and planned to move back to California, where she and her family were from. A job in an Italian restaurant was helping pay for the move, too.
Her new career was all part of providing the best life for Gabriel. The little boy, who loved dinosaurs and his blankies, was Emily’s whole world.
Being a qualified masseuse would enable her to work from home and spend as much time with her son as possible.
Emily’s family were excited at the thought of having her back in California.
Emily’s dad, Jesse, was a professional musician, and Emily was a talented singer, too. They talked about making a record together.
Mum Brenda was thrilled at the thought of having her daughter and grandson closer.
The only tie that Emily had to Utah was her boyfriend Christopher Poulson, then 28. They were living together.
Although it’s not known how serious Emily was about him, it’s clear they were on different paths.
While Emily worked day and night to better her life, Christopher had a weakness for drugs and alcohol. Still, Emily must have seen some redeeming qualities in him.
On September 8, 2015, Emily had a massage class and Christopher was left looking after Gabriel. Instead of focusing on the gentle, loving boy in his care, he took methamphetamine and drank alcohol.
Only Christopher will ever truly know what happened over those fateful hours, but his neglect meant that Gabriel suffered a terrible injury – possibly to the head.
Christopher hastily put the three-year-old in his bed, and when Emily returned home, she believed her son was sleeping and also went to sleep.
Christopher knew there was no going back and in the early hours of the next morning, he says he went to check on Gabriel and discovered he was dead.
Instead of getting help, or confessing, he decided to cover up his crime. Emily would wake soon – and find out what he’d done. He had to make sure that didn’t happen, so Christopher went to fetch his gun.
Wrapping the weapon in a towel to muffle the sound, he crept to where Emily was sleeping, put the gun to her head and pulled the trigger. Now Emily and Gabriel were both dead.
A few days later, Emily’s loved-ones grew suspicious. Emily hadn’t turned up with Gabriel for his dad’s time with him, and she hadn’t appeared at work.
At first, it was classed as a missing person’s case – then fear escalated when Emily’s Toyota was found in a local car park, containing bags of her belongings and Gabriel’s car seat. It was totally out of character.
When questioned, Christopher said they’d argued and split up on September 8, and Emily had packed her things and headed to California as planned.
But it seemed very unlikely. Investigators discovered that around the time of Emily’s disappearance, Christopher had bought a shovel, bed sheets and gloves.
A cadaver dog also indicated the presence of human remains in the trunk of Christopher’s Mustang – a vehicle he’d sold soon after Emily and Gabriel had vanished. And GPS tracked him driving to local dumpsters.
They suspected foul play but without bodies, police had to build a case and while that was happening, Christopher fled to Hawaii and got himself a job in a restaurant.
It wasn’t until late 2017, after two years of relentless detective work, that it was felt there was enough evidence to charge Christopher with two counts of murder.
Still, he pleaded not guilty as he was extradited back to Utah. There, he had a change of heart when he was offered a potential plea deal If he led police to where the bodies were, he could reduce his prison sentence down to a maximum of 30 years in prison, rather than life.
Christopher agreed and in August this year, he finally pleaded guilty to one count of murder and one count of manslaughter.
While he still refused to say what had happened to young Gabriel – he claimed in his drugged state, he can’t remember what happened – he admitted shooting Emily to cover up the young boy’s death.
Even with the possible deal, Christopher still brought heartache to Emily’s family insisting his drug-addled memory made him confused about where he’d buried his victims in the desert.
With hazy recollection, and talk of a cedar tree, a volunteer searcher eventually uncovered a shallow grave near Eureka.
Just below the surface, the skeletal remains of Emily and Gabriel were found. They’d been wrapped in bed sheets.
There was a bullet shell in Emily’s skull, however Gabriel’s cause of death couldn’t be determined.
Christopher had talked about Gabriel’s death being an accident, and Emily’s killing being panicked reaction, but investigators noted how cold-blooded the burial was.
Rather than being gently laid to rest, the mum and son were heartlessly dumped on top of each other in a tight hole and a cigarette butt had been flicked on top of them before the makeshift grave was filled.
Emily’s devastated dad, Jesse, expressed his extreme sadness that his daughter and grandson had been found dead, saying that the four years since her disappearance was like enduring a ‘mental prison’.
‘I no longer have the desire to play music,’ he said in a statement. ‘This is finally sinking in and it’s tearing my heart to shreds. I feel no freedom or relief from this mental anguish.’
Christopher admitted that, after fatally injuring Gabriel, he’d panicked and shot
Emily while she slept to stop her finding out what he’d done.
In September this year, just weeks after Emily and Gabriel were found, Christopher faced sentencing, where the prosecution said he was ‘cold-blooded’.
The double killer sat in silence, dressed in a red prison jumpsuit and shackles as photos of young Gabriel and his mum were shown in an emotive slideshow of memories.
Christopher had piled on weight and his time in prison had taken its toll.
Brenda Marsh, Emily’s mother, said she has found comfort in her faith and said she forgives her daughter’s killer.
She said that although the sentence will not bring her joy, it will help her find peace. Richard Poulson, Christopher’s dad, spoke bluntly to his son.
‘We love you very much, and that will never change,’ he said. ‘But these are serious crimes, and you need to be held accountable for those crimes.’
Christopher made a statement in court. ‘I take full responsibility. I feel terrible,’ he said. ‘I am sorry. I was not in my right mind. Emily, I am sorry. Gabriel, I am sorry.’
But the judge was not moved by his words and rejected the potential plea deal that Christopher had been offered.
‘It’s difficult for me as a court to accept a 30-year limit on two very important lives,’ he said. Instead, he sentenced Christopher, now 30, to life in prison and told him he would serve a minimum of 16 years before the chance of parole.
Emily was striving for the best future for her and her son. But she let her guard down to a person she felt she could trust, and he would cut both of their promising lives short.
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