By Scott Sonner
RENO — A Reno couple has pleaded guilty to murder charges in the torturous death of the man’s 5-year-old daughter who police say was handcuffed in an animal cage and starved before she died and they stashed her emaciated body in a duffel bag found in a California storage unit.
Averyauna Enoch pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and Tyler Anderson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Thursday in Washoe County District Court.
The two 25-year-olds also pleaded guilty to destruction of evidence and are expected to be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole at their sentencing set for April 21.
Enoch, who was not the girl’s biological mother but went by the name Anderson before the couple divorced in August, “did willfully and unlawfully kill” Cali Anderson “by means of torture,” court documents said.
Enoch intentionally withheld food and water from the girl “for the specific purpose of inflicting pain by means of starvation for revenge or for the sadistic purpose of hatred of CA due to the fact CA was not her biological child,” according to documents filed Thursday.
Enoch was the biological mother of two other children fathered by Anderson who were living with the couple in Reno at the time, court documents said.
Enoch and Anderson reversed earlier not guilty pleas as part of plea bargain agreements that call for each to serve a year in jail for destruction of evidence before the life murder sentences begin.
Prosecutors agreed to recommend Enoch be eligible for parole after 20 years and Anderson after 10 years on the murder charges, according to the plea deal.
Both originally were charged with murder following their arrest in May 2018 days after the girl’s body was found in a storage unit in Sacramento, California. They initially faced an additional charge of child abuse causing substantial bodily harm, but that charge was dropped.
Investigators believe the girl was dead for a week in the couple’s unkempt Reno apartment before they placed her in the bag inside a plastic drum. They rented a truck and left the body in a storage facility owned by a friend, who later became suspicious and called police, authorities said.
Detectives who searched the couple’s apartment found a wire animal cage with handcuffs attached and a backpack next to the crate with a hat inside bearing the girl’s name, authorities said.
Enoch told police the girl was suffering from health problems. She said that around May 4, 2018, the girl was immobile and unresponsive with what appeared to be a weak pulse and shallow breathing.
Enoch said the couple took turns performing CPR, and later placed Cali in cold water in the shower in an attempt to wake her up, according to an affidavit. Enoch estimated their lifesaving efforts lasted about three hours, but they never sought emergency services.
When they realized she was dead, they changed her clothing and placed her into a duffel bag, where it remained for about a week before Tyler Anderson drove the U-Haul and she followed in their vehicle to Sacramento, she told police.
Anderson caused his daughter to “suffer unjustifiable pain or mental suffering as a result of neglect and endangerment,” said the plea memorandum filed Thursday.
Enoch and Anderson both were responsible for her care and shared responsibility for her neglect, it said.
“This neglect and endangerment was inherently dangerous because death to the child was a foreseeable consequence … and did in fact cause the victim’s death due to complications from under nourishment or malnourishment,” the plea agreement said.