Sentencing was rescheduled Friday to March 6 for a man convicted of fatally beating his girlfriend’s 22-month-old baby in Indio nearly a decade ago.
A jury deliberated three days last October before finding Esteban Alamo, 34, guilty of second-degree murder and assault on a child resulting in death for the fatal attack on Serik Nieto, who succumbed to his injuries on Oct. 9, 2010. Alamo could face a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison, according to prosecutors.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Anthony Villalobos sided with the defense in continuing sentencing in order for Alamo’s family to be able to attend to speak on his behalf.
“This will be the last continuance,” Villalobos said. “We will need to proceed at the next hearing.”
At the time of the toddler’s death, Alamo was on parole and living with his girlfriend in Indio, the youngster’s mother, at the time, allegedly violating a requirement of his parole that he remain in Los Angeles County.
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 — and with what the criminal complaint describes as “white, foamy saliva” on his lip.
The mother 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.
Alamo was arrested on Oct. 14, 2010, in the Los Angeles area for the alleged parole violation. 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.
Alamo also said during the interview that even though he occasionally disciplined his girlfriend’s children, he had grown fond of them.
“I have nothing to hide,” Alamo said in a recorded interview with detectives that was played during the trial. “I know it looks bad, especially for me.”
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 on his father’s side, 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.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: