What to Know
- Prosecutors say brain injury to toddler was purposely inflicted, defendant says it was accident.
- Riverside County sheriff's deputies were called to the hospital by workers who suspected child abuse.
- Adan Diaz Orozco, 31, is charged with child cruelty with a great bodily injury sentence enhancement.
A Coachella man frustrated that his girlfriend's toddler would not stop crying while her mother was at work inflicted severe brain injuries on the child, a prosecutor alleged Thursday, while the defendant's attorney countered the strike was unintentional and that the mother actually caused the brain trauma on the way to the emergency room.
Adan Diaz Orozco, 31, is charged with child cruelty with a great bodily injury sentence enhancement.
"Now, according to the defendant, he just pushes her, she falls down and hits her head on the chair. That's what he is going to want you to believe," Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao told jurors in her opening statement. "But we know she ended up needing her skull taken off to allow the swelling of the bleeding that was on her brain."
Local news from across Southern California
Paixao showed jurors a photo of the 21-month-old victim, identified only as Jane Doe in court documents, when she was brought to John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio on April 9, 2011.
Riverside County sheriff's deputies were called to the hospital by workers who suspected child abuse. The toddler was later airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center.
The girl had injuries that included "active bleeding upon her brain, a collapsed lung, broken ribs, a mark by her right nipple area, a burn mark on her left wrist, and bruise marks on her back, thighs and arms," according to the prosecution's trial brief.
A different picture of the night was painted by defense attorney Dante Gomez in his opening statement. After waking the victim up from a nap, Orozco attempted to feed the toddler but she refused to eat and threw the food on the ground, he said.
Orozco then "tapped her on the butt, and she kept crying and crying and crying," Gomez said. "And then, he at a certain point just said 'enough' and threw his arm back and made contact with her, not realizing she was there."
That contact pushed the girl into a group of chairs next to the bed, according to the defense lawyer, who said Orozco immediately called the toddler's mother, who was at work at Little Caesars Pizza.
Orozco picked the mother up with the toddler in the car, he said.
Upon seeing the child, the mother began doing CPR compressions as she believed her daughter's breathing was shallow, according to Gomez. When they arrived at the hospital, she jumped out of the car and unintentionally slammed the toddler's head on the car door, he told the jury.
Investigators interviewed the mother around 4 a.m. the next day, where she confirmed that she did hit the toddler's head on the door and did not believe Orozco abused the child, according to Gomez.
"This is a case of a rush to judgment, an accident and a biased investigation," he alleged.