STOCKTON - People v Aaron Weddles and Princess Canez-Walker. Today, Weddles, 42, and Canez-Walker, 34, entered guilty pleas to eight (8) counts of Child Endangerment [Penal Code section 273a(a)]. The child endangerment charges relate to the couple’s overall neglect, abandonment, and failure to protect and provide for their eight (8) children, whose ages ranged from one month to 12 years of age. In exchange for their pleas today, Weddles and Canez-Walker were sentenced to fifteen (15) years and four (4) months in state prison.
In addition, but independent of the plea, the District Attorney’s Office dismissed two counts of murder (Penal Code section 187) against Weddles and Canez-Walker citing the insufficiency of the evidence to prove those two criminal charges. In accordance with the law (Penal Code section 1192.6), the District Attorney’s Office filed a motion with the court outlining the reasons for the dismissal of those charges.
The listed victims in the murder counts are Defendants’ twin children, a boy named Ren and a girl named Setina, who were born in April of 2016. As of this date, the whereabouts of both children are still unknown. As summarized in the motion mentioned above, efforts over the last 20 months to locate the children by law enforcement have so far been unsuccessful.
In rare situations, a person may be prosecuted for homicide even if a body is not located; this is often called a “no-body case”. The law, however, requires for a criminal prosecution, the prosecution must prove what is known as a corpus delicti (Latin for "body of the crime".) In other words, a prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the fact of a crime having been actually committed. The corpus delicti in a homicide case is 1) proof of the death of a person and, 2) a criminal cause of death for that person. It is possible, but highly unusual, that circumstantial evidence can prove corpus delicti.
In this case, however, there is insufficient evidence to prove that a death occurred, that the death was by homicide, and that the Defendants are the perpetrators. This lack of evidence has forced the District Attorney’s Office to dismiss these charges.
The District Attorney stated: “The loss of these two precious children is a tragedy and should have never happened. As a community we are each responsible to stand up and protect our children, together we can ensure their safety by reporting incidents and giving a voice to those who need us most”.
The District Attorney’s Office and Stockton Police Department continue to plead with the public for help in locating these two children.
If you have any information, no matter how insignificant you might feel that information is, please call the Stockton Police Department at (209) 937-8377, their Investigations Division at (209) 937-8323 or Crime Stoppers at (209) 946-0600. Callers can remain anonymous. Citizens may also text information from their cell phones to ‘Crimes’ (274637) and type the keyword TIPSPD and then their tip or logon to the Stockton Police Department’s Facebook page and click ‘Submit A Tip’. Tipsters may also send tips on the Stockton PD Mobile Phone App. Tipsters can remain anonymous. For additional resources for victims, and to seek assistance in reporting acts of child abuse, please contact the Child Abuse Prevention Council (CAPC) at (209) 464-4524 and the Family Justice Center at (209) 468-2600.