The defendant, Gabriel Velasquez, was reported to be 28 years old when the 20-month-old child died on May 12, 2010, according to a Bee County Grand Jury indictment returned last Thursday, Nov. 29.
The victim is identified as Elias Torres. The case was being investigated at the time by Texas Ranger Andy Lopez and Beeville Police Department Detective René Guerrero.
Lopez has since retired from the Texas Department of Public Safety, and Texas Ranger James Bennett has taken over the investigation.
The indictment includes three counts of injury to a child against the defendant. Those include an allegation that he pinched and squeezed the victim’s scrotum during an incident on April 2, 2010.
The second count of the indictment alleged that the defendant burned the child with a fork and broke some of the child’s ribs on May 10.
Then on May 12, the indictment alleges that Velasquez threw the child against a hard, stationary object “unknown to the grand jury.”
That final assault is suspected to have caused the infant’s death.
At the time of the child’s death, police were told the child was in a high chair when it fell, causing a fatal head injury.
The incident happened at the mother’s home in the former Windsong Apartments in the 200 block of East Crockett Street. The call for an ambulance came at 7:45 p.m. on May 12, 2010.
Emergency Medical Service personnel from Angel Care Ambulance Service rushed to the scene and the baby was then flown to the Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi for treatment. He died later that day.
At Driscoll, staff found what appeared to be older injuries to the child that were not related to the head injury, Guerrero said previously. That raised suspicion and prompted the investigation which led to the indictment.
Shortly after his death, family members voiced concern about the circumstances of the death.
“A week from today my baby nephew will be gone two months; it seems an eternity since we last saw his smile, felt his hugs and kisses. I want to make sure that Elias will not be forgotten,” Maria Shanklin, his great-aunt wrote in a letter to the editor shortly after the boy’s death.
Each of the first three counts of the indictment against Velasquez are third degree felonies. If convicted of any of them, he could be sentenced to a prison term of up to 10 years and fined $10,000.
The fourth count of the indictment said “capital murder-death penalty.”
District Judge Joel Johnson set the defendant’s bond at $100,000.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.