Boyfriend charged after Austin woman's toddler dies

AUSTIN - A two-year-old girl has died after being physically assaulted, and police allege the mother's boyfriend caused the injuries, court documents state.

According to the arrest affidavit, Stephen Cortez Jr, 27, has been charged with injury to a child in the case. Police said they were requested to respond to Dell Children’s Medical Center shortly before 4 p.m. Oct. 18 due to the intake of a two-year-old girl suffering from a traumatic abdominal injury.

The affidavit said the girl arrived around 2:20 p.m. and was unresponsive. She was taken into the emergency room and was pronounced dead at 2:45 p.m. Cortez and the girl’s mother said she had fallen down a flight of stairs in a home. Physicians told police the girl appeared to have sustained a “high impact” injury to the upper abdominal region, and displayed numerous contusions around the abdomen, face and extremities. According to the affidavit, the injuries were inconsistent with a fall or attempted CPR efforts.

Police interviewed Cortez, who told police he was asleep in their bedroom and was awakened by a loud noise. He said he exited the bedroom and saw the girl’s mother and the girl at the bottom of the stairs, and that the girl had soiled herself. Cortez and the girl’s mother brought the girl upstairs and began to clean her up, and the affidavit said Cortez told police he believed the girl was exhibiting labored breathing and began chest compressions before deciding to drive the girl to Dell Children’s Medical Center.

The girl’s mother told police she came home from work around 1 p.m. and found her daughter in a play unit in their bedroom. According to the affidavit, the mother removed the girl from the play unit and went downstairs to make lunch. She said she heard a faint noise and thud, and found her daughter at the base of the stairs. The mother corroborated Cortez’s story in that they took her upstairs, cleaned her up and performed chest compressions before deciding to take her to the hospital. Police questioned the mother about the other injuries, and the affidavit stated the mother said the girl recently fell at a playground.

The affidavit stated police spoke with the mother’s grandparents, who also live in the home. The mother’s grandmother said she never saw her granddaughter return home and that Cortez left with the girl.

An autopsy performed Oct. 19 states the girl had a lacerated liver, “noted to be a centralized tear, due to blunt force trauma to the abdomen,” the affidavit stated. The doctor who performed the autopsy said the injury “would produce immediate physical impairment resulting in death” and ruled the girl’s death a homicide.

Police said late Thursday morning they have not taken Cortez into custody. It is not known if the girl’s mother will face any charges as of late Thursday morning.

This is a developing story. Please check back to KVUE.com for updates.

(© 2016 KVUE)


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