Thursday, October 19, 2000

Baby was beaten by her father, jury told

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Maria Gomez Silva's life was short — and filled with pain.

        By the time she died at the age of 11 weeks, she had suffered 22 rib fractures, two skull fractures, two broken legs, two dislocated neck vertebrae, a broken collarbone, and countless bruises on her face and body.

        Butler County Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer told a Common Pleas Court jury Wednesday that the baby's father, Ramon Gomez Silva, repeatedly beat and injured his daughter to stop her incessant crying.

        “His reaction to her crying was frustration, anger and violence,” Mr. Gattermeyer said in his opening statement at Mr. Gomez's trial. “He knew what her injuries were, and he didn't take her to the doctor. He let her sit there and die.”

        The infant died June 12 at Children's Hospital Medical Center when life support was removed. Her 16-year-old mother had brought her to Mercy Hospital Hamilton three days earlier because she had stopped breathing.

        Mr. Gomez, 21, is charged with murder, involuntary manslaughter, two counts of felonious assault and two counts of child endangering. If convicted, he could be sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.

        Maria's mother will stand trial Oct. 26 in Butler County Juvenile Court on charges of involuntary manslaughter, permitting child abuse and two counts of child endangering. If convicted, she could be held in a state juvenile detention facility until she's 21.

        She and Mr. Gomez lived in a Hamilton apartment on Sycamore Street. The Enquirer is not naming the mother because of her age.

        Prosecutors had pushed to have the girl tried as an adult so that she would face more serious penalties. But Judge David Niehaus ruled that the case should stay in juvenile court because the girl can be helped by psychological treatment.

        The prosecution cited Mr. Gomez's signed statement to police and medical evidence.

        After initially telling Hamilton police that he didn't know how Maria died, he admitted that on June 8, he yanked her legs apart while trying to change her diaper because she was squirming, Mr. Gattermeyer said.

        Mr. Gomez grabbed her face and shook her and then laid her across his lap and punched her in the back with his closed fist, he said.

        He said he often beat her to stop her from crying and even admitted to biting her on her cheek in anger, Mr. Gattermeyer said.

        Mr. Gomez's attorney, David Kash, said the injuries caused by Mr. Gomez were accidental.

        Some of her injuries occurred when Mr. Gomez tripped over his shoe and landed on Maria, who was laying lying on the floor, he said.

        Maria's ribs were broken when she slipped from Mr. Gomez's lap and he squeezed her between his legs to prevent her from falling, Mr. Kash said.

        “Ramon didn't intend to injure his daughter,” he said.

        A Spanish interpreter translated the statements made in court Wednesday for Mr. Gomez, a native of Mexico who has lived in the United States for five years.

        Pam Garcia, a neighbor and a close friend of Maria's maternal grandmother, testified that she drove Maria and the mother and grandmother to the hospital on June 8.

        She said Maria was pale, had no pulse and appeared to be dead.

        Ms. Garcia, who saw Maria almost every day, said the baby had bruises on her since she was three 3 days old.

        She said she questioned Maria's mother and grandmother about the bruises more than once. She said she thought about calling the authorities, but didn't.


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