Remember dad EDDIE SALAZAR SR.? He was the one who cooked up that cockamamie story about dudes in ski masks breaking into the house and stealing the baby. Um, yea. Then he tries to tell us it was an accident (the baby "fell" and quit breathing), so, um, that's why we threw the baby in the river? Finally, he admits he got "frustrated." Piling up higher and deeper there....
Salazar trial opens
Defense says baby’s death was accidental
By Debby Woodin
The Joplin Globe Mon Mar 12, 2012, 11:28 PM CDT
JOPLIN, Mo. — A Jasper County jury will be asked to decide whether the Carthage father of an 8-month-old boy should be convicted of second-degree murder or acquitted of an accident in the baby’s 2010 death.
Trial opened Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin for Eddie Salazar Sr., 31, in the Feb. 4, 2010, death of infant Eddie Salazar Jr.
Prosecutor Dean Dankelson told jurors Monday afternoon in opening statements that Salazar gave investigators four different stories as to what happened to the baby after first calling 9-1-1 shortly after 11 p.m. saying he had fended off a home invasion by two men and that one of his children was missing.
Dankelson played the tape recording of that call in which Salazar in a calm voice told a dispatcher: “Someone broke into my house while I was asleep. I can’t find my little son.”
Salazar first told the dispatcher he was asleep on the couch when two men broke in and assaulted him. He must have been knocked unconscious, he said, because “I don’t know what happened.”
Officers who went to his house found furniture topped and an overturned crib where the baby was said to have been put to bed that night. Salazar had scratches on his face and back.
Investigators noted his demeanor, the prosecutor said: “He was coherent. He was not crying. He did not offer to look for the child.”
Officers spoke with Salazar at length over the next 24 hours before Salazar admitted there was no intrusion and abduction. He then told investigators that the baby and his girlfriend’s toddler son were playing on a couch, and that the baby fell off and hit his head. Salazar said he comforted the boy, changed his diaper, and put him to bed but found later the baby was not breathing. He said he loaded the children in the car and drove out into the country, ended up at Spring River, where he laid the boy in the woods. When he came home, he was upset, and kicked in the door and toppled the furniture in disappointment.
He gave authorities at least two more versions of his trip to the river. In the last version, he said he threw the boy’s body off the bridge.
More than 36 hours passed when a law enforcement officer found the baby’s body snagged in a tree floating in the freezing river.
The cause of death was ruled as blunt force trauma to the head. A medical examiner reported that the infant suffered three fractures to the back of the head. He finally admitted to officers that the boys had been playing, the baby started crying, and that he had become frustrated and shook the baby. He told investigators the baby’s head was hit as he shook him.
Public defender Larry Maples told the jury that the evidence will show that officers questioned Salazar several times until one of them said the father’s intruder story did not add up and that he believed there had been an accident.
Salazar eventually admitted he had not told the true story of the boy’s death. “He didn’t think anybody was going to believe him,” Maples told the jury. “He was scared.
“He explained that yes, he had become frustrated with little Eddie Jr. He was holding him and trying to comfort him, and then he shook him. But this is not a shaken-baby case.”
Salazar denied throwing the baby, but finally told investigators that he was shaking the boy, realized he should not have been shaking him, loosened his grip and the baby flew out of his hands and hit the floor, covered in ceramic tile.
Maples said the jury will hear Salazar’s tearful admission and his denials that he threw the boy to floor in anger. There will be testimony that the injuries the baby suffered were consistent with a fall to the floor, to the hard floor, Maples said. He said he will ask the jury to reject a conviction of second-degree murder .
Trial to continue
Testimony will start at 9 a.m. today in Division No. 1 of circuit court in the Jasper County Courts Building in Joplin.