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Crime

Blythe Man who killed toddler sentenced to 33 years to life

JORDAN BRACAMONTE
Jordan Bracamonte

A judge today sentenced a Blythe man to 33 years to life in state prison for killing his roommate's 18-month-old son, saying the defendant has not expressed "any degree of remorse" for his actions.

An Indio jury deliberated less than a day in February before finding Jordan Bracamonte, 25, guilty of one count each of second-degree murder and assault on a child under 8 with great bodily injury causing death in the 2015 killing of Mario Perez Jr. As jury selection was getting underway in his trial, Bracamonte pleaded guilty to four counts of spousal abuse and one count each of criminal threats and false imprisonment for unrelated crimes involving his ex-wife.

Bracamonte opted not to address the court before his sentence was handed down by Riverside County Superior Court Judge Otis Sterling, who noted the defendant's continued reluctance to show remorse for the killing.

"Mr. Bracamonte, over the course of the time that he has been incarcerated, over the course of time that this sentencing has been pending, has not taken the opportunity to express any degree of remorse. And so the court declines to do that, as well," Sterling said.

The victim's mother, Kayla Sanchez, fought back tears as she read statements on behalf of herself and several family members.

"Please give him zero clemency," Sanchez said, "like he gave my son."

Deputy District Attorney Brijida Rodarte had sought a first-degree murder conviction, arguing that Bracamonte purposely let go of Mario's hand while walking the boy up a flight of stairs on April 28, 2015, causing the child to tumble onto his head, resulting in injuries that led to his death several days later.

Rodarte also argued that Bracamonte's documented fits of explosive anger -- coupled with the fact that he intentionally lied to the boy's father and law enforcement about the child's injury -- proved beyond a reasonable doubt that his true nature'' andcallousness'' led to the toddler's death.

Defense attorney Richard Verlato conceded during the trial that his client let go of the boy's hand -- and that Bracamonte eventually admitted as much to law enforcement during initial interviews -- but said the defendant never intended for the child to fall and suffer severe injuries.

According to Verlato, Bracamonte "thought the child would just fall on his behind."

The defendant was arrested on April 29, 2015, following an investigation by Blythe police that began a day earlier, when the youngster was brought by his father to Palo Verde Hospital unconscious and in critical condition.

Rodarte said Bracamonte initially told Blythe police he was babysitting the tot in a two story apartment he shared with his then-wife and the boy's father when the child spilled soup on himself. Shortly afterward, the boy soiled himself, the remnants of which ended up on the couch. The defendant then decided to take Mario to a second-floor bathroom to clean him up, according to the prosecutor, who said that on their way up the stairs, a frustrated Bracamonte intentionally let go of the boy's hand, causing him to fall. Rodarte said Bracamonte initially denied during about two hours of questioning by police that he had released the boy's hand, but later admitted that he had.

During the sentencing hearing, the judge blasted Bracamonte for not immediately calling 911 when the fall occurred, which could have "at least given this young child the opportunity to survive.''

Three hours after the boy fell, Bracamonte and Mario's father drove the child to the hospital. The toddler was then airlifted to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, where he was on life support until his death on May 1, 2015.

Rodarte said a medical examination showed the toddler suffered multiple bruises to the face, indicating child abuse. But Verlato said those injuries stemmed from a minor bathtub fall the boy had on April 27, 2015, unrelated to the stair fall the next day.

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