A Blythe man who’s facing murder and other charges stemming from the death of his roommate’s 18-month-old son pleaded guilty Tuesday to felony spousal abuse charges.
As jury selection was getting underway in his trial, Jordan Bracamonte entered his plea to four counts of spousal abuse and one count each of criminal threats and false imprisonment involving abuse suffered by his ex-wife.
Jury selection is scheduled to resume Wednesday to pick a panel that will hear evidence on charges of first-degree murder and assault on child under 8 resulting in death, with a sentencing enhancement of inflicting great bodily injury.
On Monday, Bracamonte’s public defender, Richard Verlato, had sought to sever the spousal abuse charges, arguing that evidence specifically related to those allegations could sway jurors to convict the 25-year-old defendant on the murder charge.
Bracamonte was arrested on April 29, 2015, following an investigation by Blythe police that began when a young boy was brought by his father to Palo Verde Hospital unconscious and in critical condition.
According to court documents, Mario Perez Jr. was subsequently airlifted to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he was on life support until his death on May 1, 2015, which a medical examiner later ruled was the result of blunt force trauma.
The toddler was the son of a man who was then living with Bracamonte and his wife in their apartment. The defendant’s wife would watch the toddler while his father was away, according to court documents, but she was asleep on the morning that Bracamonte appears to have been responsible for watching the child.
The defendant maintains that the day before Mario was taken to the hospital, the child spilled food on himself and Bracamonte walked the toddler upstairs to bathe him. Before they reached the top, he released the toddler because he was “whining and crying,” and the boy tumbled down the stairs. according to a state of facts listed in a motion drafted by the Bracamonte’s public defender.
“Bracamonte stated that he thought the child would just fall on his behind, but letting go of his grasp caused the child to fall down the stairs and hit his head,” the document states.
The admission was included in witness testimony during the defendant’s preliminary hearing.
The day before Mario was hospitalized, his father saw a bump on his head, and Bracamonte allegedly told him the boy had fallen. The next day, the toddler had some kind of seizure, spurring the father to take him to the hospital.
Bracamonte is being held at the Indio jail in lieu of $10 million bail.
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