Boy strangled by mother dies after week on life support

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Boy strangled by mother dies after week on life support

CREATED Feb. 7, 2013

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - His name was Johnny.

He was a sweet, precocious little boy, loved by his family and friends.

That is until, at the tender age of ten, his life was violently cut short, and police say his own mother is to blame.

Johnny Cataline passed away Thursday morning at UAMC after more than a week on life support because, according to police, his own mother Jean Cataline, strangled him with a common household electrical cord.

They say he was your typical ten year-old boy.

"Like just very curious and just very silly and precocious,” said family friend Sarah Robinson.

He had a sweet, super-sized grin and a love for pizza, video games and getting a good laugh.

“One of my favorite pictures, he's got his hands like this in a big huge sweater that's too big for him,” said Robinson.

Now Johnny Cataline's laugh is permanently silenced.

"To know that they're not going to ever see their friend like that again…  I mean, I hurt for my children,” she said.

Police say Thursday morning, after more than a week in critical condition, a judge ordered Johnny be taken off life support.

"It's definitely sad, especially for the detectives that are involved in this case,” said TPD Sergeant Chris Widmer.  “You know, and obviously we try not to let it affect us.  We try to stay professional and keep in mind what's important here.  For us, that's prosecution."

And that’s a process that's morphing by the minute.

Upon her arrest police charged 49 year-old Jean Cataline with one count each of child abuse and attempted first degree murder.

That second charge will change, since she is now accused of choking her son to death.

"I was angry then, but I'm really angry now,” said neighbor and friend Tina Lupica.

Following the incident friends championed compassion, telling 9OYS Cataline was battling emotional demons, stemming from the recent death of her husband.

In the days since they say their emotions have changed.

"I know we get angry with our children,” said Lupica.  “I've done it.  I've done it, but there is some instinct in you that tells you when to stop."

For her, being near that apartment is baffling.

"When my dogs go over there, and I go get them, I'm always staring in there wondering what went on that day.  What started it?" she said.

Police say those answers are still unknown.

So for friends, closure lies in preventing another boy's life from being taken too soon.

“Just pretend everybody went through this kind of tragedy when you see them,” said Robinson.  “Pretend everybody just lost their husband because then that way you'll automatically treat everybody with kindness and love."

We have not been able to contact Johnny's extended family, but we are told they were with him in his last moments.

Meanwhile, Cataline is set to be arraigned Friday.

At her first court appearance the judge ordered she undergo a psych exam.

No word on if that has happened, but Tina Lupica says she tried to go see Cataline last week.

She was told Cataline wasn't mentally fit for visitors.