A Colorado couple is charged with first-degree murder in the March death of their 11-year-old son, who was forced to drink large amounts of water. Father Ryan Sabin and stepmother Tara Sabin of Black Forest were arrested Tuesday after a months-long investigation and are now held without bail at the El Paso County jail, reports the Colorado Springs Gazette. According to an affidavit, the couple directed Zachary Sabin to drink water because his urine was "really dark and really smelly" and he had a bedwetting problem as a result of a hereditary condition. But the water turned out to be what killed him. In addition to finding bruises across his body and blood on his head, the county coroner's office concluded Zachary died of forced water intoxication after he was made to drink 96 ounces of water, or 2.8 liters, in four hours on March 10.
Ryan Sabin, a public affairs sergeant at Fort Carson, told authorities he pressed his son to chug the water even after the boy started throwing up, per CBS Denver. A child witness said he threw up at least 10 times, per the Gazette. Zachary continued to drink water as the rest of the family ate dinner, then began to have a tantrum on the kitchen floor around 9pm. His father allegedly kicked the boy twice, then lifted him up, causing him to fall back and hit his head. Ryan said Zachary was acting strangely—staring, stumbling, and grunting—but began snoring as he was put to bed around 11:15pm. He was found dead the next morning with foam at the mouth. Both parents are charged with first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death, and six counts of misdemeanor child abuse, per KKTV. The affidavit lists five other children, aged 2 to 15, as victims of abuse. (Read more child murder stories.)