Ana Marez occasionally sobbed on the witness stand Friday in Lompoc Superior Court as she described the last few hours of her infant daughter’s life.
Baby Evelyn was 26 days old when she died, allegedly at the hands of her father, Jose Ramirez Jr., 28, who was appearing before Judge Raimundo Montes De Oca on a charge of murder in the infant's May 19 death.
In addition to Marez’ testimony, defense and prosecution attorneys questioned and heard evidence from Lompoc Police Department Detective Charles Scott and Dr. Manuel Montez, a forensic pathologist with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff Coroner’s Office.
Marez recalled that she was going to Walmart with her son shortly after noon on the day her daughter died, and said nothing was wrong with Evelyn when she returned home after about an hour.
Roughly two hours later, at about 3 p.m., when Marez was picking up her other daughter from a sleepover at a friend’s house, she received a frantic call from Ramirez saying that the baby wasn’t breathing and was motionless.
Marez said she told Ramirez to call 9-1-1. She rushed home before the paramedics arrived and attempted to revive her infant daughter, but Marez said that as she attempted mouth-to-mouth, blood came from the baby’s nose. Evelyn was taken to Lompoc Valley Medical Center where she died.
Ramirez hung his head for nearly the entire length of his court appearance, occasionally crying.
The video of Ramirez’ May 24 interrogation and arrest was played in court, and during the roughly one-hour video, Scott repeatedly questioned Ramirez about what happened when he was alone with Evelyn.
Scott informed Ramirez that the autopsy showed that the infant’s skull had a fracture, indicating that it had been slammed against a hard surface, but Ramirez is seen in the video denying that at first.
“Either you or Ana lost their cool and either slammed the baby on the ground or hit her,” Scott said during the interrogation.
After being pressed for the truth, Ramirez modified his story and said that Evelyn slipped from his arm and fell to the ground as he tried to catch a baby bottle, using a stuffed animal to demonstrate the motions.
Ramirez eventually admitted that he accidentally slammed the baby’s head onto the counter as he tried to pick the bottle up, again using a stuffed animal to demonstrate.
Ramiez was arrested immediately after the interrogation.
According to Dr. Montez, neither the fall from the height from Ramirez’ arms or the force applied to Evelyn’s head hitting the counter would be sufficient to cause the nine-centimeter displaced linear fracture on the right side of her skull.
You have free articles remaining.
Autopsy photos shown in court showed a fractured skull with partially protruding brain matter, which Montez said indicated that the brain swelled after the injury, meaning the baby was alive when it happened.
Photos also showed a dark red patch of skin from the skull, which Montez said was a sign of hemorrhaging. There was also evidence of a subdural hematoma, Montez said, another sign indicating trauma.
“This is a significantly violent force that causes this fracture,” Montez said.
Montez said that he preserved the brain to be further examined by a neuropathologist.
The eyes and a portion of the spinal cord were sent to Stanford for examination, Montez said, adding that results showed that there was additional hemorrhaging in the eyes.
Examination results also showed that the nerves in the brain indicated a diffuse axonal injury, Montez said, adding that this is caused by an acceleration and deceleration of the brain, which he said is indicative of whiplash. He compared this type of injury to when a copper wire’s outer coating is stripped.
Given that Evelyn was a newborn and that her skull was still pliable, more force would be needed to cause a fracture; the examination results of the eyes and brain; and that she was “non-ambulatory,” or not capable of walking and therefore not a danger to herself, Montez concluded that the injuries were non-accidental.
Ramirez’ attorney Adrian Galvan argued that the court should consider Marez' testimony that her husband’s demeanor before and after the injuries showed no malice, and that his client shouldn’t be charged with murder.
Prosecutor Stephanie Schoenburg, however, said that the evidence infers malice and that motive doesn’t need to be proved.
Judge Montes De Oca questioned Galvan about why murder wasn't a reasonable conclusion given the autopsy report, Montez’ testimony that the injuries weren’t accidental, and because Ramirez was alone with the infant and later changed his story during interrogation.
After court, Galvan said that abusive head trauma is still a “mostly contested” area of law and that he intends to bring in other expert witnesses for further proceedings.
Ramirez was previously convicted of an assault-related felony, according to Galvan.
He is scheduled to appear on Oct. 24 at 8:30 p.m. in Dept. 6 of Santa Maria Superior Court for arraignment on information.