The jury reached a verdict Monday in the case of a parolee charged with the beating death of his girlfriend’s 1-year-old baby nearly a decade ago.
Esteban Alamo, 33, was found guilty in the murder of 1-year-old Serik Nieto. Alamo was arrested for causing the injuries to Nieto that led to his death Oct. 9, 2010.
Alamo is scheduled to be sentenced Nov. 22.
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 remains 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.
“I can’t say that we have closure because the truth didn’t come out therefore in my mind justice still hasn’t been served,” said Stefanie Nieto, the baby’s paternal aunt. She said the court got the verdict wrong, based on what Serik’s 5-year-old sister told her.
“I know the baby died because he fell down the stairs his sister told me,” Nieto said. “She said she couldn’t say nothing because of her mother, which the mother was the main witness.
“Eyewitnesses in court are the worst witnesses because they’re allowed to say whatever they want,” she said. “There is no physical evidence linking this man to this crime.”
“He had multiple bruises on him all over his body, like a man beats up a man,” Serik Nieto, Sr., the baby’s father, told News Channel 3 in 2011.
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.
“They didn’t run his name when they interviewed him,” Nieto Sr said. “They took him down to the station and they didn’t run his name. If they would have ran his name, they would have found out he was on parole from L.A.”
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.