We've followed this case for a while. Dad EDDIE SALAZAR SR. has finally been found guilty of 2nd-degree murder. So you needn't worry about "masked intruders" breaking into your home and stealing your children--it was all lies.
March 14, 2012
Carthage man found guilty in death of 8-month-old son
Salazar sentencing scheduled for April 30
By Susan Redden
The Joplin Globe Wed Mar 14, 2012, 09:09 PM CDT
A Jasper County Circuit Court jury on Wednesday in Joplin found Eddie Salazar Sr., of Carthage, guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his 8-month-old son.
The jury deliberated for four hours before returning the verdict, and Circuit Judge Gayle Crane set sentencing for April 30. Public defender Larry Maples, who represented Salazar, said a new trial would be sought.
Dean Dankelson, county prosecutor, said he was pleased with the verdict.
“This represents a lot of hard work that started the moment law enforcement got the 911 call,” he said.
When Salazar first called authorities on Feb. 4, 2010, he said his child was abducted by two masked intruders, triggering a massive search led by Carthage officers. Carthage police Chief Greg Dagnan and Randee Kaiser, assistant chief, on Wednesday also noted the work that had gone into the case. Dagnan said the search was especially difficult for officers “because we were out looking as hard as we could because we thought we could find the baby alive.”
The body was found in Spring River about 36 hours after the father made the report.
Maples called no witnesses for the defense, including Salazar, 31, after the prosecution ended its case Wednesday morning.
Final testimony focused on the extent of injuries to the child and was offered by Ariel Goldschmidt, a pathologist who examined the body and determined the cause of death to be blunt force trauma to the head.
Questioned by Norman Rouse, assistant prosecutor, Goldschmidt told the jury that the child had three skull fractures to the back and the left side of his head, causing the brain to bleed and swell.
Maples had argued that the injury was the result of an accident, but Goldschmidt testified it was “not possible” that the death happened the way Salazar had demonstrated it in a video recording made by police.
Salazar had told police that he was holding the child on a living room couch, and acknowledged shaking him when he would not stop crying. He said that when he stopped, the child slipped from his hands and hit his head.
Goldschmidt said a fall from the couch in Salazar’s home, which was 19 inches high, would not have caused the injuries the baby suffered. The medical examiner now works for Cook County, Ill., and worked for Boone County, Mo., in 2010.
“At that height, it would have taken more force,” he said.
Goldschmidt also said there was no way that the child could have suffered the type of injuries he had by falling from the couch and hitting a toy, which Salazar had earlier told police. Goldschmidt said that could have accounted for a bruise the child had on his face, but that it could not have caused a bruise on the child’s abdomen.
“It takes significant force by a hand or object to cause that kind of bruise,” he said.
To questions from Rouse, he said the bruise could have been left by the father’s hands when he was shaking the child.
In cross-examination by Maples, Goldschmidt said the child was not diagnosed with shaken baby syndrome and that the sole cause of death was the head injuries. He agreed that the injuries could have been caused if Salazar had been shaking the child “and the boy came out of his hands with sufficient force.”
In closing statements, Maples said there was no evidence that a murder had taken place. He said Salazar minimized the shaking in reports to police and misled officers with a series of different stories because he was scared.
“But do lies prove murder?” he asked. “He just stopped shaking the baby, loosened his grip, and it shot to the floor and his head hit on the hard surface.”
Maples said Salazar had a job, and was trying to raise his children and do the best he could. He called him “a loving father” and pointed out that he took the baby’s older brother with him, strapped in his car seat, when he took the dead baby to Spring River.
“Does a murderer kill one child and strap another in a car seat?” he asked. “This was a terrible tragedy, but it wasn’t murder.”
Rouse, who with Dankelson offered parts of the final arguments for the prosecution, told the jury that the force that caused the death “couldn’t come from and accident.” He reminded jurors that Salazar didn’t check on the child for 20 to 30 minutes after he had been injured.
“Then it was another two hours before he left the house,” Rouse said. “That’s not panic, that’s calculation. He got rid of the child to avoid a murder rap and then came home and made it look like someone had broken into his house.”
Rouse showed video images of the child’s body and directed the jury’s attention to the torso.
“Parents who love their children don’t leave those kinds of bruises on them, or throw them off bridges,” he said. “When kids get hurt, parents who love them call an ambulance.”
Before making his arguments, Dankelson positioned a large photograph of the child in front of the courtroom and reviewed some of the explanations that Salazar had given police
“If police had accepted his word, they’d still be out there looking for two masked intruders,” he said.