A Kent County man convicted in the beating death of a four-year-old boy is a “monster’’ who deserves to die in prison, a judge told 25-year-old Elis Nelson Ortiz-Nieves before sentencing him to life behind bars.
“You are the lowest form of human life that I’ve been able to observe or see,’’ Kent County Circuit Court Judge Mark Trusock said. “You are a monster and quite frankly, you are evil. What you did was sickening and disgusting. You should never be allowed out of prison.’’
Ortiz-Nieves at one point had to be forcibly removed from court after becoming upset as Trusock described injuries suffered by Giovanni Mejias prior to his June 13 death.
“I’m not going to sit here and let you say crazy s--- about me, man,’’ Ortiz-Nieves said before struggling with deputies. He returned to the courtroom about 10 minutes later without incident.
Trusock sentenced him to mandatory life in prison without possibility of parole for felony murder. Ortiz-Nieves was also sentenced to between 80 and 150 years for first-degree child abuse.
"There is no question whatsoever that you committed this murder and that you beat this little boy to death,‘’ the judge said. “What you did to this child, this little four-year-old, innocent boy, is just absolutely beyond belief.’’
Ortiz-Nieves told the packed courtroom he never abused the boy, who was the son of his girlfriend. “Despite what anyone believes, I’m going to continue to state my innocence,’’ he said.
Kent County deputies were called to a Gaines Township house trailer where Ortiz-Nieves was left to care for several children under the age of 11, including Mejias.
Deputies found the boy “actively dying on the kitchen floor,’’ a Kent County assistant prosecutor told jurors at trial.
An autopsy showed he died from internal bleeding caused by an abdominal tear. It was an injury that would have been caused by an adult, not a child, investigators said.
A nearly two-inch tear in the mesentery, which attaches the stomach, small intestine and other organs to the posterior wall of the abdomen, caused the boy to bleed to death, according to an autopsy.
The autopsy revealed Mejias had injuries to the top of his head, lower back and buttocks and two broken ribs that were in the process of healing.
Nora Villarreal-Mulero, the boy’s maternal grandmother, said the family celebrated what would have been Giovanni’s fifth birthday on Wednesday.
“And instead of celebrating, we took him balloons, birthday balloons to the cemetery,’’ she said outside the Grand Rapids courthouse. “My grandson got justice today, but it won’t bring him back.’’
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