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August 1, 2014

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Nigerian immigrant charged with murdering toddler testifies

Closing arguments in case against Victor Fakoya expected next week

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 »

The fate of 42-year-old Victor Fakoya, a Nigerian immigrant accused of murder in the death of a close friend’s toddler son, soon will be in the hands of a jury.

On Thursday, Fakoya took the stand and testified that whatever might happen was in the hands of God.

“God is in control,” he said in his thick Nigerian accent after his court-appointed attorney, Norman Reed, asked Fakoya if he was nervous.

Fakoya, who will be on the stand again Friday morning, will be the last of dozens of witnesses to give direct testimony in a trial that has spanned almost four weeks.

He is facing a charge of murder by child abuse in the August 2008 death of 2-year-old Daniel Jaiyesimi. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

Daniel 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.

Prosecutors allege 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 be responsible for the boy’s death — it could have been an accident, he could have died from an undiagnosed health condition or even an infectious disease. They also cite problems with the timeline in which the alleged traumatic injury would have been inflicted.

In Fakoya’s defense, his attorneys have called 11 character witnesses to testify on his behalf, including his pastor and his former boss at the New York-New York casino.

A series of medical experts were called by the prosecution and defense to testify about the boy’s injuries.

Closing arguments are expected Monday.

Musediq Jaiyesimi’s friendship with Fakoya dates back to 1992, when the two men attended the same college in Nigeria.

Fakoya moved to the United States in 2003 to be with his then-fiancée, Lola, who had returned to Las Vegas to be with her parents after meeting Fakoya while in college in Nigeria.

The Jaiyesimis in 2007 earned a chance to immigrate to the United States, and Musediq Jaiyesimi reached out to Fakoya, his former roommate, for help. The Jaiyesimis arrived in December 2007.

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. Child-care duties were shared among the adults in the home, as all four worked long, often irregular hours.

Police investigators said that during the time Fakoya was watching the children that August afternoon, 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 testified Thursday that Daniel was sick and had been ill for quite some time. He said he urged the boy’s parents to take him to a doctor, but they couldn’t because they didn’t have insurance.

“He was sick. Everyone one of us in the house knew he was sick,” Fakoya said. “I did my best to make Musediq agree with me that we should seek treatment for Daniel.”

Fakoya had gone so far as to contact the benefits department at his job at New York-New York to see if it was possible to add Daniel to his insurance so he could go to the doctor, he testified.

Throughout the almost nine months Daniel had been living in his home, Fakoya had observed the boy frequently vomiting, having diarrhea, not eating well, not walking well, and possibly having a hearing problem, he testified.

Musediq Jaiyesimi testified earlier in the trial the boy was healthy except that he was teething and had an occasional fever. They had been treating the boy with Motrin and Tylenol, he said.

Fakoya said he had been worried about Daniel’s health for weeks.

“Daniel is a son to me,” he said. “I do not see us (the Jaiyesimis and the Fakoyas) as just friends anymore. I see us as family. I love Daniel very well and Daniel loves me, too.

“I take care of Daniel the same way I take care of my own children.”

Reed quizzed Fakoya:

Have you ever hit Daniel?

“No.”

Slapped him?

“No, sir.”

Punched him?

"No."

Would you ever hurt Daniel?

“No, I would never do that.”

Did you kill Daniel?

“No, I did not.”

After an autopsy, the Clark County Coroner’s Office said Daniel died of a subdural hematoma as the result of child abuse. His death was ruled a homicide.

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