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Father leaves boy, 4, on Texas interstate

SWEETWATER, Texas -- A father abandoned his 4-year-old son along a West Texas highway, and the injured boy spent several hours alone in the dark before a passing motorist picked him up, police said.

Carlos Rico, 22, stopped his car along a cactus-lined stretch of Interstate 20 near Sweetwater at about 3 a.m. Tuesday and "threw the boy out of the car like a bag of garbage," Sweetwater police Chief Jim Kelley told the Abilene Reporter-News on Tuesday.

The boy was picked up about three hours later by the local high school basketball coach and taken to a hospital, where doctors removed at least 500 cactus spines from the child's body, Kelley said. The boy was in the state's custody yesterday.

Rico was driving from Lubbock to Saginaw when he abandoned his son, and he was taken into custody Tuesday by police in the Fort Worth suburb, Saginaw police spokesman Damon Ing told The Associated Press yesterday.

Rico's cousin called police when Rico showed up to see him without his son, Ing said.

Rico told Saginaw investigators that God told him to choke the boy and expel him from the car, Kelley said. There was bruising on Angel's throat, he said.

Ing said Rico had been charged with child endangerment and did not have a lawyer representing him. His bond was set at $50,000. He could face additional charges, including attempted murder or attempted capital murder, which could apply because the boy is younger than 6, he said.

Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for Child Protective Services, told The Associated Press that there is no history of abuse involving the boy's family. She said a custody hearing is set for July 7. -- AP

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