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April 17, 2014

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Father, doctor testify in case of immigrant toddler’s death

Emergency room pediatrician says 2-year-old’s injuries seemed suspicious

Image

Sam Morris

Musediq Jaiyesimi breaks down Tuesday during the trial of his former friend Victor Fakoya. Fakoya is on trial in the death of Jaiyesimi’s 2-year-old son, Daniel.

Victor Fakoya trial

This photo of 2-year-old Daniel Jaiyesimi was presented Tuesday during the trial of Victor Fakoya. Fakoya is standing trial on a murder charge in the boy's death. Launch slideshow »

Musediq Jaiyesimi tried to take a picture of his 2-year-old son, Daniel, every single day starting the July 2008 day he got his camera-phone.

He said he wanted to be able to show Daniel photos of their early days in the United States as a young immigrant family after Daniel grew up.

Maybe he would even be able to show the photographs to his grandchildren and be able to talk about the struggles and triumphs his family endured.

When Jaiyesimi took a picture of Daniel’s bruised back on Aug. 7, 2008, he did so to document Daniel’s story.

He had no idea that the next day his young son would be rushed to the hospital for what prosecutors allege was a severe head injury caused by child abuse. Three days later, Daniel would be dead.

Jaiyesimi had no idea that the photo of his child’s purpled back later would be shown to a jury as evidence against his close friend, Victor Fakoya, who is on trial this week on a charge of murder by child abuse in connection with Daniel’s death.

If convicted, Fakoya, 42, could get a life sentence.

Jurors saw the photo Jaiyesimi took of Daniel’s back on Tuesday as Jaiyesimi testified about his family’s immigration to the United States.

Fakoya had explained that the injuries were caused by his oldest daughter, whom he said had struck Daniel with a wooden spoon, Jaiyesimi told the jury.

As part of his testimony, which will continue Wednesday, Jaiyesimi also detailed how his relationship with his once-close friend and college roommate, Fakoya, and Fakoya’s wife, Lola, had peaked shortly after Jaiyesimi, his wife and Daniel moved in with the Fakoyas’ in their two-bedroom Las Vegas home in hopes of chasing the American dream.

“Almost every African has a dream of being a part of the United States. Everyone wants to know what it is like to come to the United States — to experience the United States and the Western world,” Jaiyesimi said.

Fakoya and Jaiyesimi became close friends in 1992 when they attended the same college in Nigeria. The men remained close after Fakoya moved to Las Vegas to be with Lola.

A few years later, Jaiyesimi and his wife got the opportunity to come to America. Fakoya was more than willing to assist the Jaiyesimis in any way he could, Jaiyesimi said.

The Jaiyesimis arrived in December 2007. About a month later, the Fakoyas had a second child, Christina.

Daniel and the Fakoyas’ oldest daughter, Elizabeth, only about eight months apart in age, played together often.

But the interactions of the two children became contentious and the two young families disagreed about how they should behave.

Prosecutors contend Fakoya, who was taking care of all three children on Aug. 8, 2008, injured Daniel so severely he caused the boy’s death. They say the boy suffered severe head trauma inflicted while under Fakoya’s care and that Daniel showed signs of being shaken.

Fakoya’s attorneys say any number of things could have led to Daniel’s death — possibly an infectious disease, an undiagnosed health problem or even an accident.

From the stand, Jaiyesimi outlined how the families’ interactions began a downward spiral as he and his wife worked to get on their feet.

Disagreements over child-rearing came to a head in April, Jaiyesimi said upon direct examination from Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Jeanney.

Jaiyesimi said Lola Fakoya complained about Daniel making noise. When Jaiyesimi pointed out that Elizabeth was noisy, too, Lola Fakoya said her daughter’s noisemaking didn’t bother her — just Daniel’s.

“In April, I discovered we were no longer friends,” Jaiyesimi said.

In June 2008, Jaiyesimi got a full-time job. He had been working occasional security jobs for conventions but finally landed full-time employment with a company doing security at a construction site.

Also in June, Victor Fakoya asked the Jaiyesimis to move out, a thought that Jaiyesimi said he and his wife had already been mulling.

Jaiyesimi said from the stand he and Victor Fakoya had agreed the Jaiyesimis could stay until the end of August.

In July, tensions flared when Fakoya accused Jaiyesimi of stealing a cordless phone, which had gone missing in the Fakoya house. The item in question turned out to be a portable radio Jaiyesimi had recently been given at his job.

As Jaiyesimi recounted what happened after the confrontation, he broke down in tears on the stand.

“I calmed myself down and went back into the bedroom. I was weeping; I was crying. I took my Bible and I started reading, asking God, ‘Why should my family be put through all this ordeal?’” he said, his voice wavering.

He said Daniel came over to comfort him. “He lay his hand on my head and started saying, ‘Daddy sorry, Daddy sorry.’ He saw me crying.”

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.

Dr. Thomas Gowan, an emergency room pediatrician who evaluated Daniel when he was taken to Summerlin Hospital, testified Tuesday about the boy’s injuries.

He said when Daniel arrived at the emergency room, he wasn’t breathing on his own and his heart had stopped while in the ambulance. The boy’s heart had begun to beat again by the time he arrived at the hospital, but he was otherwise in poor condition, Gowan testified.

He said the boy’s pupils were not reacting and one was slightly larger than the other, which in his opinion signified a “severe neurological event.”

Gowan said he suspected heat trauma and was suspicious of the boy’s injuries. He was eventually taken by air ambulance to University Medical Center for further treatment.

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.

Toyin Jaiyesimi and the medical investigator who conducted Daniel’s autopsy are among a long list of witnesses — including medical experts for both the defense and the prosecution — expected to testify during the trial. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

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