The lucky dad is NELSON JULIAN SANTIAGO.
Merrillville man found guilty of neglect, not murder, in baby’s death
By Ruth Ann Krause Post-Tribune correspondent March 26, 2012 4:52PM
Updated: March 27, 2012 9:50AM
Lake Superior Court jurors convicted a Merrillville man of neglect of a dependent in the death of his infant daughter, but acquitted him of a murder charge.
After about eight hours of deliberations, jurors also deadlocked on battery and aggravated battery charges against Nelson Julian Santiago, who faces from 20 to 50 years at his May 4 sentencing hearing before Judge Diane Ross Boswell.
Prosecutors argued that Santiago intentionally killed 5-month-old Juliana Klobucar by violently shaking her, while the defense countered with its own expert who raised other scenarios to the state’s shaken baby syndrome.
In his closing argument, deputy prosecutor Michael Woods said Juliana beat the odds after being born about seven weeks’ premature, but died a violent death at the hands of her father for whom she was named.
Woods reminded the eight-woman, four-man jury of testimony that Santiago, 21, was disappointed that his then-girlfriend was pregnant with a girl and asked her to give up the child for adoption. Santiago didn’t put his name on the birth certificate and had lived with the child’s mother, Ann Marie Klobucar, their young son and Juliana for about a week before the baby’s suffered a subdural hematoma, brain swelling and retinal hemorrhaging on July 28, 2010.
Klobucar said she received a text from Santiago asking whether the children had insurance. When she called him, she learned that something was wrong with the baby, who was airlifted to the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital. Comer authorities and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office ruled the case was child abuse.
Defense expert Jan Leetsma suggested the child had suffered a bleeding episode on the brain from an earlier injury that could have started bleeding anew or that the child could have a blood clotting abnormality inherited from her mother.
In his closing argument, defense attorney Matthew LaTulip criticized the state’s medical witnesses for failing to look at prior medical history, including the fact the child had been strapped in a car seat when her mother totaled her car in a crash two months before the baby was injured.
As little Juliana continued to suffer severe seizures in a Chicago hospital bed, Woods argued that Santiago headed out to celebrate his birthday with friends, according to a post on Facebook introduced as evidence. “On my way 2 bdubs 2 smash N chillax with my peoples. Folks this my might very well b my last nite 2 breath FREE AIR so I’m gonna make the best of it N hopeful all my peoples show up,” the post states.
Jurors also heard Santiago’s statement to police in which he asked if tickling the child too hard could have caused the injuries. LaTulip told jurors Santiago was “a typical parent trying to figure out what happened to his baby.”