A forensic child abuse expert is set to testify Thursday in the trial of a man suspected of beating his girlfriend’s toddler in 2011, leaving her with permanent brain damage.
Adan Diaz Orozco, 31, of Coachella is charged with child cruelty with a great bodily injury sentence enhancement. He was arrested after his girlfriend’s daughter was hospitalized with injuries consistent with child abuse, according to Riverside County sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Torrenti.
On Wednesday, Dr. Daniel Kido, a radiologist from Loma Linda University Medical Center, testified in front of a jury that neurosurgeons treating the girl inserted a catheter into her brain to lessen the swelling and that the girl suffered permanent damage to her occipital lobe.
“The really big finding here that I think was concerning to me was the patient had an infarction — which is the same kind of infarction you get with a stroke. There was no blood supply to that area and that part of the brain is going to die,” Kido said.
On the stand, Kido reviewed MRI and CT scans that were done on the toddler, who has been identified only as Jane Doe.
“A stroke is nothing more than an area of the brain that doesn’t get blood,” Kido said. “It doesn’t get oxygen for a little while and it dies. So you can have a stroke from many different causes.”
Orozco and his girlfriend brought the girl to John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital in Indio on April 9, 2011, and she was later airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center. Sheriff’s officials said they were called to the Indio hospital by workers who suspected child abuse, leading to Orozco’s arrest.
In court Wednesday, outside the presence of the jury, Deputy District Attorney Samantha Paixao said the girl still needs to wear glasses — a result of the damage to her occipital lobe.
In her opening statement last week, Paixao challenged Orozco’s claim that he merely pushed the girl, causing her to fall and hit her head on a chair.
“That’s what he is going to want you to believe,” Paixao told jurors. “But we know she ended up needing her skull taken off to allow the swelling of the bleeding that was on her brain.”
Defense attorney Dante Gomez said during his opening statement that after waking the girl up from a nap, Orozco tried to feed her but she refused and threw the food on the ground.
Orozco then “tapped her on the butt, and she kept crying and crying and crying,” Gomez said. “And then, he at a certain point just said `enough’ and threw his arm back and made contact with her, not realizing she was there.”
That contact pushed the girl into a group of chairs next to the bed, according to the defense lawyer, who said Orozco immediately called the toddler’s mother, then picked her up with the toddler in the car.
The mother began doing CPR compressions on the girl, Gomez said, and when they arrived at the hospital, she jumped out of the car and unintentionally slammed the toddler’s head on the car door.
Investigators interviewed the mother around 4 a.m. the next day, and she confirmed that she hit the toddler’s head on the door and did not believe Orozco abused the child, according to Gomez.
“This is a case of a rush to judgment, an accident and a biased investigation,” Gomez alleged.
Orozco faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted.