Thursday, June 15, 2000

Hamilton baby death case goes to grand jury

Details of girl's injuries horrify court spectators

By Steve Kemme
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The baby's father, Ramon Zilua-Gomez.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
| ZOOM |
        HAMILTON — A packed courtroom listened in horrified silence Wednesday as a Hamilton police detective recited the long list of injuries discovered in an autopsy of 11-week-old Maria Zilua-Gomez:

        Two skull fractures, two broken legs, a broken collarbone, 22 rib fractures and bruises all over her body.

        Detective Steve Rogers said the baby's father, Ramon Zilua-Gomez, admitted to him that he caused many of the injuries in attempts to stop her from crying.

        “He would grab her around the back of her neck and throw her in bed,” Detective Rogers said, his voice cracking. “He said he believed she hit her head on the headboard a couple of times. That's how her skull was fractured.”

        Hamilton Municipal Judge John Rosmarin raised Mr. Zilua-Gomez's bond from $100,000 to $500,000 and sent the case to a Butler County grand jury.

        Mr. Zilua-Gomez, a 21-year-old native of Mexico who worked in the drywall business in Hamilton, is charged with felonious assault and child endangering. He is in the Butler County Jail.

        Maria's 16-year-old mother is charged with felonious assault and child endangering in the juvenile court system. She is being held in the Butler County Juvenile Detention Center.

        Authorities are considering charging them with murder.

        When Maria stopped breathing last Friday, her mother took her to Mercy Hospital Hamilton. The infant died Monday at Children's Hospital Medical Center after life support was removed.

        Detective Rogers said he interviewed Mr. Zilua-Gomez last Friday with the help of a police officer who can speak Spanish.

        He said that Mr. Zilua-Gomez told him Maria received the bruises on her face when she fell, but soon admitted what really happened.

        “He said he grabbed the baby, squeezed her in the face and shook her because she wouldn't quit crying,” Detective Rogers said.

        Maria suffered two broken legs when Mr. Zilua-Gomez was trying to put a diaper on her, he said.

        “She wouldn't hold her legs still,” Detective Rogers said. “So he pulled her legs apart and jerked them.”

        When she wouldn't stop crying last Thursday, he said, Mr. Zilua-Gomez laid her across his lap and punched her.

        “She threw up, and then she quit crying,” Detective Rogers said.

        On Friday, when Mr. Zilua-Gomez noticed Maria was lethargic, he put her in a shower and then placed her in a swing, he said. Later that day, the infant's mother saw that she wasn't breathing, he said.

        Many people in the courtroom gasped when Detective Rogers testified that Maria had 22 rib fractures.

        “He would pick her up around the waist,” he said, “and if she wouldn't quit crying, he would squeeze her.”

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