JOLIET, Ill. (STMW) – A jury on Tuesday found a southwest suburban man guilty of murder for the beating death of a 9-month-old boy he was babysitting in October 2008, the Herald-News is reporting.
The Will County jury deliberated for two hours before finding 33-year-old Santos Loza guilty of the murder of Kevion Bender. Prosecutors said Loza beat the baby to death while he watched the child alone in his Joliet home the night of Oct. 26, 2008.
Loza’s next court date is Dec. 4, at which time a sentencing date is to be set.
“Santos Loza was in over his head. He didn’t know what he was doing,” Assistant State’s Attorney Derek Ewanic told the jury during closing arguments. “Santos Loza lost it, and he began viciously beating Kevion Bender.”
The night of baby-sitting was uneventful, according to the summary Loza gave detectives. The baby was crying when his mother, Sandra Sitko, left for work about 4 p.m. Then Loza and Bender sat on a couch and laid on a bed to watch football and baseball until Loza put Bender to bed about 10 p.m.
Sitko returned to Loza’s Woodside Court residence in Joliet with Bender’s brother about 11 p.m. and spent the night, she previously testified.
When she awoke at 4:30 a.m. and checked on Bender, Sitko said, she found him cold, stiff and lifeless.
Loza, who denied he struck Bender, was arrested in August 2010.
Prosecutors say the night of Bender’s death, Loza became so irritated by the teething baby’s crying that he beat him unconscious, causing broken ribs, a skull fracture and bruises on his head and buttocks.
Bender ultimately died from head injuries that a forensic pathologist said occurred four to eight hours before he died.
Defense attorneys had maintained prosecutors were not able to prove what time the baby’s injuries were inflicted, who inflicted them or how.
Prosecutors also didn’t prove the baby had been crying all night, as Loza’s texts to Sitko that night said the child was fine, defense attorney Joseph Lopez argued.
“This case is riddled with all kinds of doubt,” Lopez said. “The evidence was inconclusive (at the time), it’s inconclusive now.”
Jurors ultimately disagreed.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)