Dad Chokes, Abandons Son: Held On $500k Bail

VIDEO: Texas authorities say Carlos Rico admitted to leaving his 4-year-old for dead.
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The father of a 4-year-old boy is now being held on $500,000 bail after choking his son and abandoning him on a West Texas highway on Tuesday night, leaving the child to fend for himself for hours on the side of a cactus-lined road.

The child's father, 22-year-old Carlos Rico, told police he had a "religious experience" with voices telling him to "choke his son and leave him on the side of the road." And that's apparently what he did.

Today Rico's charges were upgraded from endangering a child to attempted capital murder. A Nolan County grand jury is slated to hear the case in July.

It is not yet clear if Rico has a lawyer.

For now the boy, Angel Flores, is in the custody of child protective services.

Marleigh Meisner, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services spokesperson, said a custody hearing has been scheduled for July 7.

"At that time child protective services will make a recommendation to the court as to whether we believe the child should remain in our temp custody, be returned to parents, or placed with appropriate and available relatives," Meisner said. "Ultimately it is up to a judge to decide custody."

Sweetwater High School Coach Al Hunt found the boy early Tuesday morning around 6 a.m. while driving down Interstate 20. The child was covered in cactus needles, Hunt told ABC News affiliate WFAA.

At first he mistook Angel for "the post at the end of the guardrail." But then he realized the small figure was actually a little boy on the edge of the busy road.

"I just hollered at him to stand still as the trucks went by, hoping I didn't see something happen," Hunt told WFAA.

Hunt brought Angel to Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital in Sweetwater, and the boy was discharged the next day.

"They had to sedate him down here at the hospital to start pulling the little needles out," Hunt said.

Rico had been driving from Lubbock to Saginaw, a small city adjacent to Fort Worth to visit his cousin.

"His reason that he gave investigators was that he was going to look for a job in this part of town," said Saginaw police spokesman Damon Ing.

When Rico arrived without his son, the cousin called police.

"We're lucky he didn't get run over or some pervert didn't pick him up," Sweetwater police chief Jim Kelley told reporters.

Police say a woman in Lubbock, Texas had full custody and care of Angel, and they are still trying to determine her relationship to Rico. The woman is now in Sweetwater.

"At this time we don't have any knowledge of his biolgical mother," said Ing.

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