Murder suspect in Lee Co. will not take stand in own defense

Murder suspect in Lee Co. will not take stand in own defense


A Lee County jury will soon begin deliberations in the capital murder trial for an Auburn man accused of killing his live in girlfriend's 4-year-old daughter.

Ramiro Delreal-Contreras will not take the stand in his own defense. The prosecution and now the defense have rested their cases and the judge is preparing to charge the jury so they can begin deliberations.

Closing arguments are scheduled to being following the lunch break on Friday. 

In May 2012, Auburn investigators say Ramiro Delreal-Contreras killed 4-year-old Ava Zapata by kicking her and beating her to death. We heard testimony from medical experts the little girl suffered a traumatic injury that caused her small intestine to dissect or split into two pieces. The child died at UAB, when her organs shut down.

Delreal-Contreras told investigators he accidentally kicked the little girl in her stomach while babysitting.

He also told police he did not tell anyone because he thought Ava would get better.

The defense called one witness to the stand, retired forensic examiner Dr. James Lauridson, who testified the defendants story that he accidentally kicked the little girl could have caused her injuries that led to her death. However Lauridson also testified Ava could have died as a result of child abuse because no forensic examiner could get inside a defendants head and testify to the intent of the actions. Lauridson testified he is not paid for his opinion on a case when it is requested by a defense attorney. However, he is paid a fee if he is called to testify but can not recall if he has been paid to testify in this case.

Thursday, Dr. Melissa Peters was called by the prosecution. Dr. Peters is the top child abuse expert at Children's hospital in Birmingham. Her speciality is telling if a child's injury matches with the reported cause of the injury. She testified the defendants story that Ava ran into his leg full force causing him to accidentally kick her in the stomach, was not believable, considering how severe the little girls injuries were. Dr. Peters examined the little girl and testified her injuries were more consistent with the force of a violent car crash or a horse stomping on her abdomen.

The Medical Examiner who performed Ava's autopsy testified her small intestine was severed in half. He testified the injury is rare, but kids can recover if a doctor is given timely information. 

The defendant admitted in a statement to police, he did not tell anyone about the kick to Ava's stomach because he thought she'd get better.

The defendant faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. The death penalty is not an option in his trial. 

The district attorney says after careful consideration and discussion with the victims family they decided not to seek the death penalty. The defendant has been behind bars at the Lee County Detention Center since his arrest. He's being held with no bond.

We will continue to cover the trial and bring you the very latest.

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