AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Testimony began Wednesday, Dec. 10 in the capital murder trial of an Auburn man accused of killing his then-girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter.
News Leader 9's Elizabeth White was in court as jurors broke down sobbing during opening statements.
Several jurors cried as they saw a picture of 4-year-old Ava Zapata and heard prosecutors claim Ramiro Delreal-Contreras beat the little girl, then withheld vital information from doctors trying to save her.
His defense team told jurors in May 2012, their client accidentally kicked the child while babysitting her and a friend after his girlfriend, Ava's mother, left for work.
"She was very sick, she was on almost total life support," stated Dr. Stephen Robert, a physician with the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
Dr. Robert, who treated Ava, testified her injuries were consistent with a child falling out of a window, onto a post, and other severe types of trauma.
"Getting stomped on, getting hit by a baseball bat, possibly a violent car wreck," Dr. Robert added.
The doctor testified the blow or blows injured Ava's liver, severed a main vein and ripped her intestines.
The prosecution says the defendant never told anyone he had allegedly accidentally kicked Ava until after the little girl died.
Detective Michael Creighton with the Auburn Police Investigative Division read Delreal-Contreras' statement to police for the jury:
"We were in the living room playing and I accidentally kicked her in the stomach, she was running at me full speed and I kicked my left leg out and I thought she was going to hit my shin and go over it or play horsey, but I kicked her full force. I didn't tell anyone because I didn't think it was that bad and that she would get better, now I know that was a mistake," the statement read.
News Leader 9 will be in the courtroom as testimony continues Thursday, Dec. 11. At this point, we do not know if Delreal-Contreras will take the stand in his own defense.
If convicted, he faces life in prison without the possibility of parole.