Mother’s boyfriend indicted in the death of her toddler under his care

The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced Friday that Diego Miguel Garcia, 23, who was arrested in early February for the death of his girlfriend’s infant son under his care, has been indicted.

According to court documents, at around 11 pm Phoenix fire crews had responded to an apartment near South Montezuma Street for reports of a 911 call about a half year old child with visible signs of trauma.

Crews transported him to Valleywise County Medical Hospital for treatment and notified Phoenix police while en route to the hospital.

At the hospital, a doctor reported that the toddler had preliminary injuries to their head, lip and bruising to the left cheek, back and abdomen, as well as a contusion to the head causing a cranial bleed, court documents state.

The child was not expected to survive his injuries, later being pronounced dead the next morning on Feb. 2.

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What led up to the child’s death?

When officers arrived at the scene, they interviewed the child’s grandmother, who had called 911.

According to court documents, the grandmother said the toddler’s mother had gone to the grandmother’s house with the child and the boy was unresponsive. She also told officers that she had been watching him from 7:30 am to 5 pm earlier that day and that he did not have any visible injuries nor behaved “out of the ordinary”.

Court documents show that the child’s mother corroborated the grandmother’s story, saying the toddler was acting normal when she picked him up.

At around 5:30 pm, the toddler’s mother left to go to work, leaving her child in the care of her live-in boyfriend, Diego Garcia, as well as Garcia’s 5-year-old child.

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According to court documents, Garcia had been dating the toddler’s mother for about four to six weeks while living at the residence for nearly a month.

At 9 pm, Diego called the toddler’s mother saying that the two kids had been playing when the toddler hit his head, causing his lip to bleed.

Court documents show that the boy’s mother returned to the home at around 10:30 pm to check on her son and found him asleep, with a cut on his lip, a bump on the head and unresponsive.

In an effort to wake the child, the mother put cold water on his face, but the child still did not respond.

She then took him to the grandmother’s house for help and asked her to call 911, court documents state.

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According to court documents, Garcia had been the only adult watching the child during the time frame when the injuries had taken place, and on Feb. 2 was interviewed at the Phoenix police headquarters.

According to court documents, Garcia gave multiple accounts of what had happened while watching the child between the hours of 5:20 pm and 10:30 pm

Court documents state that these versions were inconsistent with the injuries sustained by the toddler, as well as with the scene.

Garcia had originally stated that the toddler ran into the edge of a door and hit his head on the wall, saying he had not been paying attention to both children while in custody of them.

He then told officers that the child had fallen off the couch and hit his head, as well as falling out of a crib, hitting his head on the tile floor. Garcia continued by saying the child actually slipped from his arms while he tried to pick him up from the crib.

Julie Gunnigle (left) and Rachel Mitchell.

According to court documents, Garcia then told officers that the third time the toddler hit his head was when Garcia hit him on the back of the head while he was sitting on the floor, causing him to fall forward, cutting his lip.

Court documents state that Garcia had never been given permission to physically discipline the toddler, nor did he have any legal parental rights to him.

Garcia is now facing multiple charges including one count of first-degree murder, a class one dangerous crime against children and one count of child abuse, a class two dangerous crime against children.

“Children are some of the most vulnerable in our community and when a child dies at the hands of an adult, this office will seek justice for the tragic loss of life,” County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in the statement.

No other information had been released.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona man accused of killing his girlfriend’s toddler

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