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September 18, 2014

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Child abuse death trial expected to be finished this week

Defendant to testify Wednesday in his second lengthy trial on 2008 death of 2-year-old boy

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Victor O. Fakoya

The second trial for a Nigerian immigrant accused in an August 2008 child abuse death case is expected to go to the jury by the end of the day Thursday.

After several weeks of testimony from 20 witnesses, the state has rested its case against Victor Fakoya, a Las Vegas man accused of felony homicide by child abuse in the death of 2-year-old Daniel Jaiyesimi.

Fakoya is expected to go on the stand Wednesday to refute the charges, according to lead defense attorney Norm Reed, a Clark County public defender.

Fakoya's defense team began presenting witnesses Tuesday afternoon, starting with a pediatrician and emergency room physician who said he didn't think the boy was abused, but suffered a thrombosis, or blood clot, that developed in his brain over time and led to a seizure and his death.

The physician dismissed other injuries found on the boy as merely routine bruises that could have been received during rough play with other children. He also said a skull fracture the boy was found to have did not cause his death.

Judge Valorie Vega has told attorneys she wanted them to have the case to the jury by the end of the day Thursday.

Fakoya's first trial also lasted several weeks, running from February until mid-March, when the jury announced it was hopelessly deadlocked and a new trial had to be scheduled.

The boy died Aug. 11, 2008, at University Medical Center after three days in intensive care. Doctors testified the boy was brought to the hospital “in extreme medical distress.”

The boy and his parents, Musediq and Toyin Jaiyesimi, were living with Fakoya and his wife, Lola, along with the Fakoyas' two small children in the Fakoyas' two-bedroom Las Vegas home at the time of Daniel's death.

The Fakoyas were providing a place for the Jaiyesimis to live as they adjusted to life in the United States.

The boy was under the care of Fakoya on Aug. 8, 2009, and during that time suffered injuries consistent with child abuse, police investigators said. Fakoya was the only adult present in the home when the boy was first taken in to an emergency room.

During the first trial, Fakoya’s attorneys cited a number of other possible reasons for the boy’s death. They offered theories of a possible infection, an accident or possibly an undiagnosed health condition.

Prosecutors said the boy’s injuries, which included a skull fracture, bleeding in his brain and bruises, were inflicted by Fakoya after the boy's father left the home after lunch to return to work.

Fakoya is being held on $500,000 bail in the Clark County Detention Center, where he has been since his arrest.

During testimony Tuesday, Robert Rothfeder, a Salt Lake City pediatrician and emergency room physician, said he disagreed that the boy's death was from child abuse, but the result of a blood clot on his brain.

"We don't really know over what period of time the thrombosis developed and when it became complete," Rothfeder said. "That's one of the problems with this case. We really don't know the rate of things deteriorating, anywhere from hours to days, I would think."

Rothfeder said the boy's case isn't consistent with other cases of abuse, where an abused child might have multiple injuries, including cigarette burns, fractured limbs or black eyes.

"You look for associated injuries that are suspicious," he said.

Norm Reed, public defender for Fakoya, asked if any of those characteristics were present in Daniel's case.

"No," Rothfeder said. "There's something called battered child syndrome and that's not what you have here."

Reed asked Rothfeder about the significance of the bruises found on Daniel's back. The physician said he saw nothing that was significant on the boy's body.

"Those bruises, to me, were minor and incidental and the sort of thing that would be routine in an active toddler, particularly an active toddler that was in the presence of siblings or other kids who like to roughhouse," he said. "It wouldn't have been unusual in my house when my kids were that age."

Under cross examination, Chief Deputy District Attorney Vicki Monroe, directed a line of questions to Rothfeder that revealed he also has a law degree and has been called on in the past to be an expert witness for defendants in child abuse cases.

She also showed a photo of a large bruise on Daniel's back that other physicians have said looked like a handprint and incredulously asked Rothfeder if he thought it was incidental. He said he didn't think it looked large enough to be a hand mark.

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