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UPDATE: Testimony underway in Perez trial

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Reymundo Perez in court for trial
Reymundo Perez in court for trial

UPDATE:  

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- Testimony began Wednesday in the trial of Reymundo Perez, the Bancroft man accused of causing injuries that killed a toddler over two years ago.

Two-year-old Felix Espinoza-Villa died October 28th, 2011. His mother Beatrice had recorded testimony, which was played for the court Wednesday morning. Several doctors and first responders are slated to testify for the prosecution this week. They are resuming the trial after lunch, shortly after 1:30 p.m. in Portage County Branch II of Circuit Court.

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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- The trial for a man accused of causing the death of his girlfriend’s young son is underway, after several delays. 28-year-old Reymundo Perez is charged with reckless homicide and felony child abuse after two-year-old boy, Felix Espinoza-Villa died October 28th, 2011.

Seven men and seven women make up the jury of twelve plus two alternates. The prosecution and the defense made their opening remarks Monday afternoon.

Prosecutor Veronica Isherwood told the jury Perez admitted to investigators that he threw Felix to the floor. “In his first part of his statement, he picked up a kleenex box to describe what he had done to Felix, and he picked up the kleenex box, and you’ll see this on the video, that he picks it up and throws it on the floor.”

Isherwood says the medical examiner found several severe injuries in various states of healing, and one injury that shocked him. Young Felix had a severed spine. “As part of the autopsy, he examined his spine, and at L2 and L3 (vertebrae) in the lower part of his spine, his spine was completely snapped.”

Prosecutor Isherwood and defense attorney Gary Schmaus are likely to present conflicting testimony about how Felix’ spine was broken. “When the defense finds an expert that will come in and tell you, oh, he severed his spine three weeks earlier and he was just walking around, fell off the counter and he died. Our doctor is going to say that is not possible, and that’s where you’re going to be asked which doctor’s opinion can you believe.”

Schmaus told the jury the evidence will not point to his client, but instead to the child’s abusive mother. “The injuries that little Felix sustained over the course of his very, very short life, and which ultimately caused his death are consistent with the admitted abuse from his mother, Beatrice.”

During opening arguments, defense attorney Schmaus claimed prosecutor Isherwood was wrong about why the toddler cried when he saw his mother. And she talks about Felix crying when he saw his mother because he was so attached. Nothing could be further from the truth. He cried because he was fearful of her.”

Both sides acknowledge that the child’s mother often spanked Felix.

The prosecution plans to call witnesses Tuesday through Friday, including doctors and first responders that attended to the child.

The time between Felix’s death and the start of the trial is longer than the total time Felix was alive. Isherwood says the trial had several delays, to no fault of either side. “There have been lots of motions, lots of reports that needed to be produced, people have retired, people have moved on to other jobs, and the court calendar is very congested. We had to schedule a two week trial, which is very hard in a congested court calendar.”

The trial is expected to last up to two weeks.

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