A Coachella man was convicted Friday of second-degree murder and assault on a child for fatally beating his girlfriend’s 2-year-old daughter.
Jorge Melchor Castro, 34, was found guilty Friday of inflicting fatal injuries on Patricia Duarn on the night of April 5, 2013, or early the following morning.
The guilty verdicts came on Castro’s third trial in the case, following two 2016 mistrials, with both of those juries unable to reach verdicts on either count.
After being in Castro’s care while her mother was at work, the girl was found unresponsive the following morning when Castro’s girlfriend tried to wake her. According to prosecutors, she suffered a fractured skull, subdural hemorrhage and extensive bruising to her head. The toddler died at Loma Linda University Medical Center on April 7.
Castro told deputies he took the girl to relatives’ homes, a park and a 99-cent store on the night of April 5, before returning to their Coachella home and putting her to bed sometime after midnight. Family members who saw the child that night reported seeing no injuries of any kind.
Castro also phoned his girlfriend after midnight to say her daughter had urinated in her bed, prosecutors said. During a telephone conversation with her child, Castro’s girlfriend did not report noticing anything unusual.
Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao alleged during Castro’s second trial at the Indio courthouse that he beat the girl that night because he was “frustrated, drunk, and she was crying.”
According to the prosecutor, Castro put the girl to bed on her left side to purposely conceal the bruise on the left side of her cheek and dissuaded her mother from checking on her that night after she came back from work.
“A little girl doesn’t go to bed and wake up like this,” Paixao said, referring to photographs of the girl’s injuries. “She didn’t just collapse on her own. Patty was murdered.”
Castro is slated to be sentenced Jan. 4 at the Banning Justice Center.