A man convicted of second-degree murder and assault charges for the beating death of his girlfriend’s 22-month-old baby in Indio nearly a decade ago is scheduled to be sentenced Wednesday.
An Indio jury in October deliberated three days before finding 34-year-old Esteban Alamo guilty of second-degree murder and assault on a child resulting in death for the fatal attack on Serik Nieto.
A Dec. 4 sentencing date was postponed until Wednesday at Alamo’s request. His new attorney, Christopher Hickey, sought an additional six weeks to pour over trial transcripts and other records, possibly in preparation for a motion for a new trial.
Alamo, who is being held without bail at the Indio Jail, is facing 15 years to life in state prison.
Serik died Oct. 9, 2010. Alamo was on parole and living with his girlfriend in Indio at the time.
According to prosecutors, he babysat the toddler on Oct. 4, 2010, for four to five hours while the mother ran errands. When she returned, she found her son unconscious and struggling to breathe.
The woman took Serik to JFK Memorial Hospital in Indio, but he was soon airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center, where he was pronounced brain-dead and taken off of life support a few days later.
It took Riverside County coroner’s officials several months to complete an autopsy on the toddler, and charges related to his death were not filed against Alamo until February 2011.
Alamo’s prior attorney, Jacob Devane, asked jurors during the trial to consider whether the mother might be responsible for Serik’s death and also suggested the toddler could have fallen while playing.
Deputy District Attorney Joshua Hill countered that during an interview with police, Alamo indicated the child’s injuries occurred when the mother was away from the residence.
According to a declaration in support of an arrest warrant, Alamo told Indio police detectives that he did not like children and would lose his temper fairly quickly, adding that is why he didn’t have any children of his own.
An autopsy revealed that the victim’s injuries could not have been caused by a “simple fall from a couch, chair, bed,” according to court papers.
Following the verdict, the victim’s aunt, Stefanie Nieto, told reporters she and many of her family members believe Alamo is innocent.
Nieto said years after the baby’s death that she was told by the victim’s older sister that the child tumbled down some stairs.
“There is no physical evidence saying this man did it,” Nieto told reporters outside the Indio courthouse at the time. She added that the mother blamed Alamo, but alleged her “neglectfulness” and failure “to do her motherly duties” were actually to blame.”
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. in Dept. 2H at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
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