The two men arrested in connection with the death of a 17-year-old Simi Valley teen have been charged with felony child cruelty.
Scott Jacob Mason, 20, of Simi Valley and Jacob Patrick Banaga, 18, of Visalia appeared before Judge Dale Blea on Friday, Dec. 20 at the Madera Country Superior Court receiving confirmation they would have a hearing in regards to the disappearance and death of Tara Shannon Maguire.
According to a statement released by the Madera County Sheriff's Office, Mason and Banaga had taken a trip with Maguire earlier in the week near Rock Creek before running out of gas and stranding themselves without food or water.
Shortly after noon on Monday, Dec. 16, Search and Rescue teams received a distress call from a "stranded motorist" claiming to be out of gas, water and food.
Within a few hours, at approximately 4:30 p.m., deputies located the two men who seemed to be cold and hungry. Deputies were then notified Maguire, another member for their party, was lost the day before and there was no sign of her since.
Both men admitted to regularly using methamphetamines and were on a multiple-day "meth binge" prior to Maguire's disappearance. The two men called authorities when their car ran our of gas and they were without food and water.
According to a statement given by Adam Rodriquez, public defender for one of the two defendants, Banaga and Mason were not responsible for Maguire's death and tried to locate Maguire after she wondered off.
"She wandered off, passed out, collapsed, and was found deceased," Rodriquez said. "They tried to find her and could not."
Public defender, Greg Gross, said he believes this is a case of being "young and dumb" not cruelty to a minor, according to an article in the Madera Tribune.
"Young and dumb is not a crime," Gross said. "At least it's not always a crime. That's exactly what we've got here. We've got young and dumb and somebody suffered a tragedy."
A search and rescue team was able to locate Maguire's body which was located in a stream near Rock Creek Campground.
According to the Madera Tribune a police report stated that Mason "broke down in tears" when he was told of Maguire's death.
Judge Blea asked for a pre-trial flight risk assessments before making a decision on whether or not the men would be granted pre-trial release.
Assistant District Attorney Tracy Wise is handling the case and feels the two are a definite flight risk because of their place of residence.
Details on Maquire's autopsy have not been released and and authorities are not sharing any information about the case at this point.
The two were booked into Madera County Department of Corrections Tuesday morning at around 3 a.m. on suspicion of willful cruelty to a child.
Judge Dale Blea will review the evidence given to him regards to pre-trial release and may confirm a Jan. 3 preliminary hearing date.
Banaga and Mason's bail is set at $10,000.
Rock Creek Campground is located close to Mammoth Pool Reservoir near the Ansel Adams Wilderness roughly an hour north of North Fork. Elevation is roughly 5,000 feet. Depending on road conditions, travel time can be as much as 2 hours.