Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Dad on trial for 1st-degree murder of 4-month-old daughter (Orlando, Florida)

Dad is identified as LUIS OMAR RIVERA. Why this baby was "in his care" is not explained. Nor is it explained what happened to this baby's mother. Did she live in the home? Was this a single father? No explanation.,0,2191437.story

Doctor testifies about infant's injuries in father's murder trial

Luis Omar Rivera, 29, is charged with first-degree murder in 4-month-old Jaliya's death.

By Jeff Weiner, Orlando Sentinel
1:01 p.m. EST, January 29, 2014

Jurors in the trial of a man charged with murdering his 4-month-old daughter heard testimony Wednesday about the "catastrophic" nature of the brain injuries that led to the girl's death.

Luis Omar Rivera, 29, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his daughter, Jaliya Rivera, who was fatally injured while in his care in November 2010, according to authorities.

Dr. Stephen Nelson, a Winter Haven-based medical examiner who consulted on the case, testified Wednesday that Jaliya suffered skull fractures and numerous brain injuries before she died.

Some of the bruises predated the fatal injuries, Nelson testified.

"This child was, more likely than not, abused in the past," he said.

Nelson said the girl's multiple skull fractures would have required a "tremendous amount of force." He agreed when a prosecutor described the girl's head injuries as "catastrophic."

After such an injury, "unless you get to the hospital and have some sort of emergency care, the child's going to die," he said.

According to police reports, doctors who examined the girl said her injuries were likely caused by abuse, including being shaken and struck on her head.

Prosecutors rested their case Wednesday. A doctor is expected to testify for his defense Thursday, followed by closing arguments and jury deliberations.

After the state rested, Rivera's public defender, Gerod Hooper, asked Circuit Judge Frederick Lauten to throw out the first-degree murder charge.

"There is no evidence of premeditation," Hooper said, arguing second-degree murder or manslaughter were more appropriate charges. "If anything, the evidence points to some angry, violent, spontaneous outburst."

Prosecutor Pam Davis said the state doesn't have to prove premeditation — just that Rivera committed a felony which resulted in Jaliya's death.

Lauten denied Hooper's motion. Rivera faces life in prison if convicted as charged.