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Jury Convicts Father For Killing 21-Month-Old Daughter

A Coachella man was convicted today of second-degree murder in the fatal beating of his 21-month-old daughter, who had more than 30 injuries.

Raul Galvez, 28, was also found guilty of a felony count of assault on a child causing great bodily injury in the Jan. 6, 2006, death of his daughter Yazlan.

Galvez, who stood still and looked straight ahead while the verdict was read, will face 25 years to life in prison when he is sentenced Sept. 10.

The seven-woman, five-man jury deliberated for about two hours before reaching a verdict late Monday afternoon, following nearly two weeks of testimony.

Deputy Public Defender Joe Forth said he plans to appeal the verdict at sentencing because he doesn’t “think the evidence warrants second-degree murder.”

“We don’t think they considered all the evidence,” Forth said. “There was a lot of scientific evidence from the doctors in our favor. With a case this long, we don’t think they deliberated over the evidence.”

Deputy District Attorney Kristi Belcher said outside of court that she felt the jury’s verdict made up for society’s failure to save Yazlan’s life.

“I feel that society failed Yazlan by not protecting her, that Yazlan was beaten over a period of time,” Belcher said. “She had bruises that were in various stages of healing. People had to have seen them. People had to have known what was going on.”

A juror, 48-year-old Anthony Spencer of Palm Springs, said the panel came to a consensus based on Galvez’s own admission that he was alone with the child that day and other evidence.

“Based on the forensics and pathology information, we were able to narrow down the time lines based on the extent of her injuries to within hours of the time she was brought into JFK (Memorial Hospital) not breathing,” Spencer said. “It had to be him.”

In her closing argument Monday, Belcher said Galvez did not believe Yazlan was his child and “took the opportunity to abuse her every chance he got.”

“Yazlan Galvez was 21 months old when the defendant repeatedly hit her on her head, her face, her stomach, her back, her legs, her buttocks,” the prosecutor alleged.

The toddler had swelling to her brain, Belcher said, adding that the girl “was covered from head to toe with bruises.”

Galvez carried the non-breathing child into John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Belcher said. She was transferred to Loma Linda Medical Center, where she died.

Forth told the panel that Galvez was watching Yazlan and her older sister when he saw the toddler throw up.

The attorney said Galvez called the child’s mother, explaining that he was going to take the child to the hospital, then called the mother again when Yazlan stopped breathing.

Galvez voluntarily talked to police after the toddler was hospitalized with 30-plus injuries, Forth said.

“He doesn’t have anything to hide,” the attorney said.

Forth also pointed to a statement from the child’s mother, Carmen Ayala, who said she had never seen Galvez hit the children.

Ayala, who faces deportation to Mexico, pleaded guilty in March 2009 to a felony count of willful child cruelty and was sentenced to a four-year prison term.

KESQ News Team

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