A man charged with felony murder in the death of a 4-year-old boy told investigators he tried to hydrate the listless child by giving him copious amounts of water shortly before starting abdominal compressions.
Elis Nelson Ortiz-Nieves said the boy’s abdomen appeared to be distended from the water, so he started compressions to induce vomiting, a detective testified Tuesday, Aug. 8.
It wasn’t water, but blood, that was causing the boy’s abdomen to bulge, Kent County Sheriff’s Detective William Marks said.
"The number of injuries present was remarkable,'' testified Dr. David Start, who performed the autopsy on 4-year-old Giovanni Meijas.
The boy had injuries to the top of his head, lower back and buttocks. The autopsy also found two broken ribs that were in the process of healing.
But it was a nearly two-inch tear in the mesentery, which attaches the stomach, small intestine and other organs to the posterior wall of the abdomen, that caused the boy to bleed to death.
“It takes a very significant blunt trauma to the abdomen to cause this type of injury,’’ Start said. “It’s not the result of several less forceful blows accumulating over time.’’
After hearing testimony from four witnesses, 63rd District Court Judge Jeffrey O'Hara determined there was enough evidence to send the case to Kent County Circuit Court for trial.
Ortiz-Nieves was charged with felony murder and first-degree child abuse for the boy's June 13 death. The child was found unconscious at a house trailer in Gaines Township, south of Grand Rapids. The boy lived there with his mother and siblings.
Ortiz-Nieves was dating the mother of Giovanni Meijas and had been staying there since about February.
When the boy's mother left for work in the morning, Ortiz-Nieves was left alone to watch several children, all under the age of 11.
Ortiz-Nieves said Giovanni appeared listless when he got the child into the shower, according to testimony.
When Giovanni did not respond after being in the shower, Ortiz-Nieves tried to give him water, he told investigators during a 5-1/2 hour interview.
After being transferred to a bedroom, the boy appeared to be unresponsive, so Ortiz-Nieves began chest compressions, according to testimony. He was performing CPR on the child when Kent County sheriff’s deputies arrived.
An arriving deputy described the CPR as being “overzealous’’ and “aggressive.’’
“I made him stop because I thought he’d hurt him further,’’ deputy Jack Wood testified Tuesday morning.