Saturday, October 21, 2000

Father guilty of killing baby

21-year-old could get life prison term

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Ramon Gomez Silva, accused of killing his 11-week-old daughter because she cried too much, was convicted Friday of murder and three other charges by a Butler County jury.

        After almost four hours of deliberation, the jury of nine men and three women returned guilty verdicts on four of six charges against Mr. Gomez: murder, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and child endangering.

        He was acquitted on a second count of felonious assault and a second count of child endangering.

        Common Pleas Judge Michael Sage will sentence him on Oct. 30. He could receive a maximum sentence of 32 years to life in prison.

        “We're pleased with the verdict,” Prosecutor Dan Gattermeyer said. “It's very difficult when the victim is this young and has this many injuries.”

        Maria Gomez Silva died June 12 at Children's Hospital Medical Center when life support was removed. Maria's 16-year-old mother had taken her to a Hamilton hospital on June 9 because she wasn't breathing.

        Mr. Gomez, who shared a Hamilton apartment with Maria's mother, was arrested June 9, after being questioned by Hamilton Police Detective Steve Rogers.

        Maria's mother will stand trial next week in Butler County Juvenile Court on charges of involuntary manslaughter, permitting child abuse and two counts of child endangering. The Enquirer is not publishing her name because she is a juvenile.

        Maria had 22 rib fractures, two skull fractures, two broken legs, two dislocated neck vertebrae, a broken collarbone, and countless bruises. The fatal injury was a fractured skull that damaged her brain and rendered her unable to breathe, according to medical testimony.

        Doctors said those skull fractures occurred at the same time that someone tore Maria's spinal cord, lacerated her kidney and bit her left cheek.

        Dr. Franklin Wright, a dentist, testified that a mold of Mr. Gomez's teeth matched the teeth marks on Maria's cheek.

        “Whoever did any one of those injuries, did them all,” Mr. Gattermeyer told the jury in his closing argument.

        On the witness stand Friday, Mr. Gomez, 21, denied intentionally hurting Maria. He had told police on June 9 that he became frustrated with Maria's crying and struck her on the back in frustration.

        But on Friday, he tried to minimize his sense of frustration with Maria, although he admitted that he felt “desperate” on June 8 when she kicked and cried while he tried to change her diaper.

        Speaking through a Spanish interpreter, Mr. Gomez, a native of Mexico, said he bit Maria's cheek playfully, not in anger.

        But Dr. Wright said someone had to bite down very hard to leave such deep marks on Maria's cheek.

        Mr. Gomez admitted telling police that he may have broken her legs when he pulled them apart while changing a diaper. But he said he didn't think he pulled her legs apart forcefully enough to do that.

        His attorney, David Kash, said in his closing argument, that too many people — including Maria's 16-year-old mother and maternal grandmother — took care of Maria to pinpoint who caused which injury.

        “There's more than reasonable doubt that Ramon did it,” he said. “The injuries he admitted accidentally causing did not cause Maria's death.”

        But Mr. Gattermeyer said Mr. Gomez was responsible for his daughter's death. He said Mr. Gomez not only caused the injuries, but failed to take her for medical attention on June 9 when he saw that she was listless and barely breathing.

        That afternoon, Mr. Gomez left her in a swing in his Hamilton apartment and went to pick up a check. When he retured about 5 p.m., Maria's mother had already taken her to the hospital.

        "He let her sit in the swing and slowly die,” Mr. Gattermeyer said. “He wanted her to stop crying, and he got what he wanted.”


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