Jury deliberations began today in the trial of a parolee charged with the beating death of his girlfriend’s 1-year-old baby nearly a decade ago.
Esteban Alamo, who was 24 at the time of his arrest and is now 33, is suspected of causing injuries to Serik Nieto, which led to his death Oct. 9, 2010.
Alamo was living with his girlfriend in Indio at the time of the baby’s death, allegedly violating a requirement of his parole that he remain in Los Angeles County.
According to prosecutors, on Oct. 4, 2010, he babysat for four to five hours while the mother ran errands. When she returned, she found her son unresponsive with irregular breathing — and with what the criminal complaint describes as “white, foamy saliva” on his lip.
The baby was taken to John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio and later transferred to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he was pronounced brain-dead and days later died after being taken off life support.
In their closing arguments, both defense attorney Jacob Devane and Deputy District Attorney Joshua Hill discussed the credibility of the numerous medical experts who testified during the trial and whose opinions were a significant focus of the case.
Devane also asked the jury to consider two alternative scenarios that could exonerate his client, proposing that the child could have fallen while playing or that the mother caused the injuries.
“You cannot exclude the mother as the perpetrator who inflicted the injuries on the child,” he said. “If you cannot exclude her, then you cannot convict Mr. Alamo.”
Hill countered that Alamo’s own account to police about the incident indicated that the injury to Nieto occurred when the mother was away from the home.
“You cannot use imaginary doubt or speculative doubt,” Hill told the jury.
Police interviewed Alamo when the victim was first taken to a hospital, but didn’t realize he was allegedly in violation of his parole.
In a second police interview at Loma Linda University Medical Center three days after the injury, Alamo said that after the child came inside from playing, nothing appeared to be wrong except for a cut lip that the defendant presumed was from a fall.
“I have nothing to hide,” Alamo said in a recording of the interview previously played to the court. “I know it looks bad, especially for me.”
He also said during the interview that even though he occasionally disciplined his girlfriend’s children, he had grown fond of them.
Alamo was arrested Oct. 14, 2010, in Los Angeles County for the alleged parole violation. It took Riverside County coroner’s officials several months to complete an autopsy on the baby, and charges related to his death were not filed against Alamo until February 2011.
Jury deliberation is scheduled to resume Friday at 9 a.m.