A Crofton father who admitted Thursday that he slashed the throats of his wife and daughters before cutting himself will be treated at a state psychiatric hospital, after a judge accepted a psychiatrist's findings that the man snapped because of extreme depression and anxiety that apparently stemmed from work pressures.
Julio Cesar Esquetini, 50, pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree assault and one of child abuse before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom. He was then found not criminally responsible for taking a box cutter to the throats of his wife and two daughters shortly before 6:30 a.m. June 15, the first day of summer vacation for county public schools. All three survived.
Prosecutor Anastasia Prigge said doctors found that Esquetini was "facing serious stress at work," putting in long hours — including being on call — and suffered a break with reality. An engineer, he worked at an ice plant in Prince George's County, where his lawyers said he was in charge of production.
Esquetini was committed to the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene for treatment. His wife of 22 years, Ximena, who had been the most seriously injured, sat through the hearing; his daughters, who were 20 and 13 at the time of the attack, did not attend.
"He was under a lot of work pressure, and it took its toll on him," Elizabeth Palan, one of his public defenders, said after the hearing.
His daughters described him as "expressionless, confused, like he did not know what was going on at the time of the events," Palan told the judge.
Prigge said that Esquetini asked his elder daughter, Paula, to help her mother, who was in bed and wasn't feeling well. The daughter heard odd noises coming from her parents' bedroom, and when she was getting ready to go to her mother, her father slashed her throat, Prigge said.
He soon turned on the younger daughter, Andrea, who had been awakened by her sister's screams, and slashed her throat, the prosecutor said. She asked her father why he was doing this. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," Prigge said he replied.
The elder daughter called police. Esquetini was gone by the time police arrived, and they followed a bloody trail into nearby woods, where they found him lying face-down, with apparently self-inflicted cuts to his ankles and neck, Prigge said. All were treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.
Palan said the family emigrated from Ecuador about seven years ago after more than a decade of applying to come to the United States. At the time of the crime, police said they had never been called to the family's Crofton Meadows townhouse, and neighbors described a happy couple with smart children.