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Child abuse murder trial goes to jury

Nigerian immigrant says boy began shaking involuntarily before he called 911

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Steve Marcus

Chief Deputy District Attorney Vicki Monroe questions Victor Fakoya during his trial at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, December 16, 2010. Fakoya, a Nigerian immigrant, is on trial for child abuse murder in the death of 2-year-old Daniel Jaiyesemi, the son of a couple from Nigeria who had moved in with Fakoya and his family in their Las Vegas home. His last trial in February and March ended in a deadlocked jury.

Updated Friday, Dec. 17, 2010 | 3:52 a.m.

Victor Fakoya testifies

Victor Fakoya testifies on his own behalf during his trial at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. Launch slideshow »

A Clark County jury began deliberating in the wee hours of the morning today following the six-week-long child abuse murder trial of Victor Fakoya in the death of 2-year-old Daniel Jaiyesimi.

After a marathon day, which included putting Fakoya on the stand for several hours, Judge Valorie Vega decided to continue the trial going through the night, according to Norm Reed, Fakoya's lead defense attorney.

"She's decided to keep us 24-7," Reed said, explaining the jury began deliberations about 3:20 a.m. in the second lengthy trial for Fakoya, who whose first trial was declared a mistrial by Vega in March because of a "hopelessly deadlocked" jury.

After listening to weeks of testimony from other witnesses, Fakoya began testifying Thursday afternoon. The Nigerian immigrant, who worked as an accounting manager at the New York New York casino, spoke softly.

He admitted to being nervous as he began telling his side of the story in the Aug. 8, 2008, death of the boy who was under his care.

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, Musediq Jaiyesimi, had left the home — which the two families shared — after lunch to return to work.

Defense attorneys had earlier in the week brought in a pediatrician and emergency room physician who said he didn't think the boy was abused but suffered a blood clot that developed in his brain over time and led to a seizure and his death.

During testimony Thursday, defense attorney Adrian Lobo asked Fakoya several direct questions about child abuse: Did he hit Daniel, push him, punch him or do anything physical to injure the boy?

"No, I did not," Fakoya said.

Then what happened to the boy?

"I don't know," Fakoya said.

However, The former Nigerian political science professor described what led up to the time on Aug. 8, 2008, that he made a 911 call to bring in medical personnel to treat the boy.

First, the boy had vomited while Fakoya had tried to feed him breakfast.

Next, when the boy was upstairs with his father, Musediq Jaiyesimi, who was home on a lunch break, Fakoya had heard a loud noise that "sounded like someone had landed on the floor heavily."

Fakoya said when he heard Daniel screaming, he ran upstairs to see what had happened.

But by the time he reached the boy, Daniel's father was there and Fakoya's daughter, Elizabeth, was looking at both of them. Fakoya indicated his daughter, who was eight months older than Daniel, might have been fighting with Daniel at the time of the fall.

A few hours later, after Daniel's father had caught the bus to go back to work, Fakoya began feeding the children lunch. But after a few bites, the boy vomited again, only this time much more than the first time, he said.

Fakoya said he cleaned Daniel and laid him on the floor on a comforter with the other children and went to work on his computer. A few minutes later, Elizabeth ran to him and told him something was wrong with Daniel.

Fakoya said Daniel's arms and legs were shaking involuntarily, so he went over and picked him up.

"His whole body was shaking very vigorously," Fakoya said.

Fakoya said he began calling the boy's name, then phoned the boy's father and asked him to immediately come home. He put Daniel on the phone with his father. Daniel said one word, "Daddy," and then went limp.

Fakoya said he began giving Daniel CPR. Fakoya then called his wife, Lola, to tell her to get Daniel's mother and come home. Lola told Fakoya to call 911 for help.

Fakoya, who had also been taking care of his infant daughter, Christina, said he had become confused and emotional when trying to get the boy to respond. He said he also had difficulty getting the 911 operator to understand his Nigerian accent.

"I was screaming. I was crying," Fakoya said.

Before he began talking about the events of Aug. 8, Fakoya's attorney, Adrian Lobo, showed him a photo of himself and Daniel.

It was a shot of Fakoya holding the boy at Fakoya's graduation ceremony in May when he received a masters' degree in social work from UNLV. She also showed the jury a photo of Daniel wearing Fakoya's cap and gown.

Fakoya stifled some tears and sniffed. "Daniel was just like a son to me," he said.

Fakoya had known Musediq Jaiyesemi for many years in Nigeria. When the Jaiyesimis moved to the United States, Fakoya offered to let them stay in his two-bedroom Las Vegas home until they got settled.

Fakoya was being cross examined late this afternoon by Chief Deputy District Attorney Vickie Monroe, who was having a difficult time getting Fakoya to give specific times for his actions during the time he was the only adult present with the boy.

Earlier in the afternoon, public defender Norm Reed brought in character witnesses for Fakoya, who said he was not a violent person. The witnesses, a pastor and a family friend, also said that in several instances they had seen him with Daniel, he had treated him just as he treated his own children.

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  1. I don't think shaken baby syndrone is something they believe in that much in Europe or Asia. How did babies survive in the back of a buckboard or in an ox cart??