Orangevale man, girlfriend convicted of killing son

PHOTO: Sac Sheriff

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — An Orangevale man and his girlfriend were convicted earlier this week of extensively abusing the woman’s 5-year-old son, eventually holding him down in a bathtub and killing him.

Jessica Diane Prater, 32, and Adam Jay Caldwell, 39, were each convicted of first degree murder and child endangerment in the death of Zachary Prater-Stokes, Prater’s son.

According to a press release from 2016, Sacramento Sheriff’s deputies responded to a drowning call in the 8700 Block of Pershing Avenue, where Caldwell lived with Prater and her son. The deceased son was transported to a local hospital and was pronounced dead, but doctors told law enforcement officials that his injuries weren’t consistent with drowning.

Instead, a Sacramento jury found, the couple submerged the child in water and killed him with blunt force. According to a statement from the Sacramento County DA’s Office that briefly outlined the case, Caldwell punished Prater’s son with physical and psychological abuse, which soon became more violent and later came from the boy’s mom. After the couple killed their son, they called 911 and said he drowned in the bathtub. When authorities got there, they found him completely dry. The couple was charged with the boy’s murder three days after their arrest.

As of Wednesday, Prater’s Facebook page was flooded with comments expressing outrage towards her role in the killing, while Caldwell’s page was completely locked down.

Those poor children… I can’t imagine the abuse they endured at your hands,” one commenter wrote.

The couple faces 25 to life in state prison. Caldwell returns to court for sentencing on November 19th at 9:00 A.M., and Prater returns in early December.

Ethan Biando
Ethan Biando is a freelance journalist from Sacramento. His writing focuses on crime, courts, and policing. Find him on Twitter @ethanb822

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