CALGARY — A judge has found a man guilty of inflicting a fatal brain injury on his young grandson five months after the boy was sent to Canada from Mexico so he could have a better life.
Allan Perdomo Lopez, 59, was charged with manslaughter in the death of five-year-old Emilio Perdomo.
Prosecutor Vicki Faulkner said Emilio's family in Mexico remember him as a happy, outgoing child.
"They told us what a wonderful, sweet little boy he was, always saying 'hi' to people on the street, and so smart. He had such promise," Faulkner said Wednesday after Queen's Bench Justice Richard Neufeld gave his verdict.
During the trial, the Crown played a police recording from the family minivan of Perdomo Lopez tearfully praying in Spanish.
An English transcript of the intercept submitted at trial said the man was asking for forgiveness and saying he "didn't want to kill that child."
The prayer was one of 11 police recordings from the accused's vehicle, home and phone that were presented as evidence.
Perdomo Lopez's lawyer had said the remark was not a confession and that the Crown cherry-picked segments of the recordings to construct its story.
The judge said in his decision that the prayer had to be given great weight given the man's devout Christian faith. He likened it to a witness swearing to God to tell the truth in court.
"I am satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Perdomo confessed to having killed Emilio, even though he did not want to do so," Neufeld said.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Sept. 24 and Perdomo Lopez is to be under house arrest until then. A manslaughter conviction carries a maximum life sentence and lawyers wouldn't say what sentence they will seek.
Court heard the boy was taken to hospital unconscious on July 9, 2015, and underwent emergency brain surgery. Emilio never woke up and died eight days later.
Neufeld said he accepted testimony from medical professionals that Emilio's extensive brain bleed was the result of a sudden injury that happened shortly before he was taken to hospital.
Perdomo Lopez suggested in his statement to police that there had been no fall or other injury that day, but that Emilio was clumsy and had earlier fallen from his bike, into a window well and down the stairs. He also suggested some injuries dated back to Emilio's time in Mexico.
"I have concluded that his version of events ... is not believable or reliable," Neufeld ruled. "It contains both internal and external inconsistencies and contradictions."
During the trial, court was shown photos of bruises and scars in various stages of healing all over Emilio's body. The injuries were not visible in photos of the child when he was in Mexico or shortly after he arrived in Canada.
Defence lawyer Darren Mahoney suggested at trial there were other reasonable conclusions the judge could draw, including that the boy's death was an accident or that someone else in the household could have assaulted him.
He said his client was disappointed and that lawyers will analyze Neufeld's verdict before deciding whether to appeal.
"Obviously it's a lot to absorb when you're convicted of a serious crime, but he's aware that his legal team continues to look at his alternatives."
Mahoney said his client hasn't seen his daughters, who are now adults, in three years and he has no income, since he and his wife have both lost their jobs. Carolina Perdomo was also accused initially, but the Crown stayed the charge against her earlier this year.
Lauren Krugel, The Canadian Press