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October 2, 2014

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Nigerian immigrant on trial in toddler’s death

Authorities say 2-year-old suffered injuries consistent with child abuse

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Victor O. Fakoya

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Musediq and Toyin Jaiyesimi moved to Las Vegas from Nigeria in December 2007 in search of a better life for themselves and their young son, Daniel.

But just nine months later, 2-year-old Daniel was taken to the hospital with head injuries and died.

Musediq Jaiyesimi’s college friend and fellow Nigerian immigrant, Victor Fakoya, is accused of causing the toddler’s fatal injuries.

Prosecutors say the child died from severe head trauma caused while under Fakoya’s care and that he showed signs of being shaken.

Fakoya, 42, is standing trial this week in District Court on a murder charge in connection with Daniel’s death.

On Aug. 8, 2008, Fakoya was looking after Daniel and his own two young daughters while his wife and Toyin and Musediq Jaiyesimi were at work.

Police investigators said that during that time period, Daniel suffered serious injuries consistent with child abuse. The toddler died at University Medical Center on Aug. 11, 2008, after being taken there in what investigators described as “extreme medical distress.”

Fakoya’s attorneys said in opening arguments Thursday that any number of things could have caused the boy’s death — a brain infection, an accident, a disease — and that Fakoya was a helpful friend, not a killer or a child abuser.

The trial is expected to last two to three weeks. If convicted, Fakoya could face a maximum of life in prison without parole.

At the time of Daniel’s death, the Jaiyesimis were living in the Fakoyas’ two-bedroom home near Spring Mountain and Cimarron roads.

Toyin Jaiyesimi had won an immigration lottery in Nigeria, and her family had been permitted to come to the United States if they had a local sponsor who would house them.

Musediq reached out to his college buddy, Victor Fakoya, who not only agreed to allow the Jaiyesimis to move in with him but sent $2,500 to pay for their transportation costs to the United States, his attorney, Adrian Lobo, told the jury.

Fakoya believed helping a fellow countryman get a shot at a better life was something he needed to do, she said.

“The evidence in this case will show that no good deed goes unpunished,” Lobo said. “Victor Fakoya in this case did nothing but good deeds and the evidence will prove that.”

Fakoya’s friendship with Musediq Jaiyesimi dates back to 1992, when the two young men were enrolled at the same college in Nigeria. They parted ways after graduation, and Fakoya began pursuing his master’s degree at another university. It was there that Fakoya met his wife, Lola, who had grown up in the United States but returned to her native country of Nigeria to pursue an advanced degree.

In 2000, Fakoya asked Lola to marry him.

The young couple saw a brighter future in the U.S., and Fakoya began the lengthy emigration process. In 2003, he finally moved to Las Vegas to be with Lola and became a legal U.S. resident.

The transition for him was tough, Lobo said. He had to start a job at the bottom and work his way up.

Shortly after he arrived in Las Vegas, Fakoya began working as a security guard at a Strip casino and by the time the Jaiyesimis arrived in Las Vegas, he had become a supervisor.

He was determined to lead a good life, Lobo said.

In December 2007, the Jaiyesimis arrived in Las Vegas.

The cultural differences between the two families were evident the moment Toyin Jaiyesimi stepped off the plane. She dropped to her knees and bowed to Victor Fakoya — a common practice in Nigerian culture but not something Fakoya’s Americanized wife would ever do, Lobo said.

Over time, those cultural differences became increasingly problematic, especially as they pertained to parenting the three young children who lived in the small home, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Vicki Monroe.

Monroe said the day Daniel died was the day tensions came to a head in the Fakoya house.

The two families had very different opinions about child rearing: Daniel and the Fakoyas’ 3-year-old daughter, Lizzie, played very rough.

The Jaiyesimis allowed Daniel to be rambunctious, but the Fakoyas wanted to instill discipline in Lizzie.

After months of butting heads over the children, the Jaiyesimis finally were asked to move out, Monroe said. The Fakoyas had asked them to leave by the end of the month.

On that August afternoon, Musediq Jaiyesimi had come home to spend a few hours with his son before having to return to his job working graveyard shift security at a construction site. Daniel was happy, talking and jumping around while his father was home, Monroe said.

About 20 minutes after Musediq Jaiyesimi left, he received a phone call from Fakoya who said Daniel had thrown up. The two men discussed how to care for the boy, and Musediq suggested a bath and some yogurt. He later called back and Fakoya said Daniel was sleeping.

But a couple hours later, Musediq Jaiyesimi received a phone call of a different sort from Fakoya. He said Daniel was sick and that Musediq Jaiyesimi needed to come home immediately.

As part of their opening arguments, prosecutors played the 911 call Fakoya made to summon paramedics to the house.

Fakoya tells the dispatcher the child wasn’t breathing and was gasping for air. The child might have had a seizure and has blood coming from his nose, he tells her.

Small gasps can be heard in the background of the tape.

When paramedics arrive, they take Daniel to Summerlin Hospital, where he has a CT scan that indicates a serious head injury.

Medical personnel noted the boy was unresponsive and that his pupils were fixed and dilated.

After being evaluated at Summerlin Hospital, he was taken by air ambulance to UMC because of the seriousness of his injuries.

Metro Police were called to respond to a report of child abuse with substantial bodily harm and began their investigation.

When Daniel arrived at UMC, he was put on a ventilator and was in critical condition. He had multiple bruises on his back, including a large purple bruise that appeared to be shaped like a hand between his shoulder blades, police said.

Fakoya would later tell investigators the bruise was caused when Lizzie struck Daniel with a wooden spoon.

Daniel remained in the hospital several days and was pronounced dead on Aug. 11, 2008. The Clark County Coroner’s Office said he died of a subdural hematoma due to child abuse. The death was ruled a homicide.

The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy also found a skull fracture and skin and soft tissue injuries, Monroe said.

Medical investigators determined that Daniel’s injuries had occurred within about three hours of his first CT scan at Summerlin Hospital.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to call medical experts to testify about what caused Daniel’s injuries.

Fakoya’s attorneys contend the boy had been sick for at least a week for an unknown reason and that Fakoya had urged his friend to take the boy to see a doctor.

Monroe said Daniel was teething but otherwise a normal, healthy baby boy.

Fakoya has been held in the Clark County Detention Center on $500,000 bail since his arrest in October 2008.

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