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Originally published Friday, January 2, 2009 at 12:00 AM

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Uncle arrested in Idaho girl's death

A second man who was in a snow-blocked car when a little girl was allowed to attempt a frigid 10-mile hike on Christmas Day has been arrested on a murder warrant.

The Associated Press

BOISE, Idaho — A second man who was in a snow-blocked car when a little girl was allowed to attempt a frigid 10-mile hike on Christmas Day has been arrested on a murder warrant.

Sage Aragon, 11, died before she could reach her mother's house; her 12-year-old brother Bear was rescued and treated for hypothermia. Both walked miles in snow and subfreezing temperatures.

Kenneth Quintana, 29, an uncle of the children, was arrested early Thursday on a warrant alleging second-degree murder and felony injury to a child, Jerome County sheriff's Deputy David Ursino said.

Robert Aragon, 55, the children's father, and Quintana had been driving the children to visit their mother when the car got stuck in a snowdrift. The children were allowed to attempt the trek on foot along a windswept, snowy highway while the men stayed to free the car and then returned to the town of Jerome.

Aragon was charged earlier this week in 5th District Court with second-degree murder and felony injury to a child.

Quintana was also arrested for investigation of two counts of drug possession — officers said they discovered him with marijuana and methamphetamine — and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

"The drug charges are from when they picked him up," Ursino said.

Efforts to reach Quintana's family in Jerome were unsuccessful.

Like Aragon, Quintana is being held on $500,000 bond.

Quintana was arrested just hours after residents of Jerome, an agricultural town in Idaho's dairy heartland, on Wednesday packed a Mormon church for Sage Aragon's funeral. At the service, a relative, Darrell Tendoy, asked for forgiveness for Robert Aragon.

"He raised those children, I was proud of him," said Tendoy, a great-uncle to the children. "Sometimes in our lives, we do make mistakes. He must be feeling a lot of pain right now."

A phone listed for Tendoy was disconnected. He couldn't be reached by The Associated Press for comment.

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The children lived with Robert Aragon, who wasn't married to their mother, JoLeta Jenks. She couldn't be reached for comment Thursday. Her phone number was not in service.

According to sheriff's reports, Robert Aragon and Quintana were in a 1988 Buick Century with the children, taking them to visit Jenks for the holidays, when the car became stuck in a snowdrift on a desolate road north of the town of Shoshone.

Jenks told the AP earlier this week she eventually called Robert Aragon after the children failed to arrive. He had freed the car and driven to Jerome. Jenks said she called 911 after learning the children were on foot.

Sage Aragon walked about four miles with her brother but then turned back. Her body, obscured by drifting snow, was found early on Dec. 26 by a search dog. She was wearing a down coat, shirt, pajama pants and snow boots. She was pronounced dead at a hospital in Ketchum. An initial autopsy showed she died of hypothermia.

A search and rescue team found Bear Aragon at a rest stop shortly before 10 p.m. on Christmas night. He was treated at a hospital and released.

AP Writer Jessie Bonner contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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