A 51-year-old Daly City man was sentenced today in San Mateo County Superior Court to 25 years to life in prison for the beating death of his infant son in 2004.
According to authorities, on April 8, 2004, Pedro Joaquin Olivas was babysitting his nearly 18-month-old son Fernando when late that night he called the boy's 27-year-old mother at work, claiming the boy had fallen from a bed.
The boy was later takento the hospital, where he died.
Prosecutors claimed Olivas' story was inconsistent with an autopsy report on the child's injuries, and Olivas was indicted by a grand jury a year later and charged with murder and assault on a child resulting in death.
A jury in August returned a verdict of guilty on both counts: second-degree murder and assault resulting in the death of a child under age 8.
In court this morning, Olivas' attorney Scott Furstman asked Judge Barbara Mallach for a new trial, arguing that there had been insufficient evidence to convict his client. Mallach said the evidence against Olivas was “compelling” and denied the motion.
Furstman then asked for probation for Olivas, while Deputy District Attorney Al Giannini argued for the maximum sentence for a “brutal and heinous crime,” according to Giannini.
Speaking in his own defense, through a Spanish-speaking interpreter, Olivas offered, “I am innocent.”
“Well, I don't believe that, Mr. Olivas,” Mallach retorted. “I agree with Mr. Giannini that this was a brutal and heinous crime. There's no excuse for it.”
Mallach sentenced Olivas under the more serious of the two charges, assault resulting in the death of a child under age 8, the maximum penalty for which is 25 years to life in prison.
Olivas will not be eligible for parole until 2032, according to Giannini.
Though a motive was never established, Giannini had said after the trial that there had been “tension in the family.” Olivas was married to another woman, with whom he had three other children, at the time he fathered Fernando, Giannini said.
During the 10-day trial, jurors heard from several doctors, all supporting the prosecution's account of events. One doctor described injuries all over Fernando's body, including 19 areas of trauma and bruising on his head. The defense did not present any witnesses and declined to have Olivas testify, arguing the death had been accidental and the evidence against Olivas was entirely circumstantial.
Outside the courtroom this morning, Giannini said of Olivas' declaration of innocence, “I hope that's a signal that he's ashamed of himself.” Though it is still not known why he attacked his child, Giannini said, “He knows what he did.”
— Bay City News