A Hesperia, California, man is facing 25 years to life in prison for killing a 1-year-old girl by crushing her with his foot as he watched television.
Daniel Ruiz, 25, was found guilty Nov. 19 of one count of second-degree murder and one count of assault on a child causing death, the San Bernadino County District Attorney’s Office announced in a Nov. 20 press release. He faces 25 years to life when he is sentenced Jan. 15, 2016.
Ruiz was asked to watch two children in August 2013, while his girlfriend Terra and her friend Andrea went to the store, the press release notes. The children were Andrea's.
When speaking to police after the incident, Ruiz said he felt “taken advantage of” by the two women when they asked him to watch the kids, according to Lead Deputy District Attorney Kathleen DiDonato, who prosecuted the case.
While babysitting the kids, Ruiz put his foot on 1-year-old Scarlett's chest and pushed down as hard as he could with his 230 pounds of weight on her body, according to DiDonato. As the baby gasped for air, he got up and turned on the television.
After changing channels for a few minutes, Ruiz reportedly noticed that Scarlett appeared to be having a seizure. He tapped her on the cheek to get her to snap out of it.
The two women returned home shortly after that, and Ruiz ran outside to tell Scarlett’s mother that she needed to go to the hospital. The women were gone for about 30 to 45 minutes.
Andrea was reportedly unable to contact 911, so she grabbed Scarlett and ran directly to the fire station across the street.
The fireman and hospital workers were unable to revive Scarlett, and she died in the hospital soon after. The cause of her death was discovered in an autopsy two days later.
Ruiz didn’t initially admit to stepping on the baby. He originally said that he didn’t know what happened, other than the fact that she had a seizure. Later he admitted that he purposely stepped on her because he felt that Andrea and Terra had taken advantage of him.
“The defendant stated that he actually felt better after stepping on the victim, as he sat there watching television,” DiDonato said in the DA's press release. “The whole time, Scarlett was behind him, lying on the floor trying to catch her breath. Fighting for her life.”
A total of 4,068 children ages 1-4 died during 2013, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Assault (homicide) was one of the three leading causes of death, along with accidents (unintentional injuries) and congenital malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities.