Fallbrook man accused in death of toddler in his care

Man who called for help 8 years ago now charged with murder

A 29-year-old Fallbrook man is on trial for murder, accused in the death of a toddler 8 years ago.

Efrain Cornejo, then 21, phoned paramedics when a 14-month-old baby in his care stopped breathing. The five-minute 911 call was played for the jury this morning, March 5, 2013.

The mother of the toddler left her child with her boyfriend in their apartment while she went to work at a local casino, according to a prosecutor. The mother, Ana, had left her husband in December 2004, and then moved in with her old boyfriend Efrain Cornejo in February 2005, just three months before the untimely death of her child.

Efrain Cornejo and renewed-girlfriend Ana had disagreements about Ana’s “relationship” with a female friend named Mary, according to a prosecutor.

The prosecutor alleges that Efrain Cornejo proposed to Ana on May 20 but she rejected him; two days later, on May 22, 2005 her baby was found dead. Ana has subsequently married a person named Mary, according to papers filed by prosecutor Patricia Lavermicocca.

An autopsy showed the baby had severe internal injuries, including two full-thickness breaks in her liver, the prosecutor told a jury today.

Defense attorney Jill Kovaly said the child may have choked to death, since paramedics and the emergency room doctor found applesauce coming out her mouth and nose. And there was prior medical history of fevers and seizures; the child had reportedly suffered a fall and hit her head three weeks prior to her death, defense stated.

Efrain Cornejo, now 29, pleads not guilty to murder. He is on trial before a jury of 10 women and 2 men, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse. The prosecutor told the jury that the Sheriff’s detective who was originally assigned the homicide case in 2005 was “new,” but otherwise the reason for delay of prosecution has not been made clear.

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Oh, the eight year delay in prosecuting this case is "not made clear?" That's most interesting. Justice delayed is justice denied, goes the saying. So now this case finally comes to trial. Witnesses are hard to find and their testimony is vague, full of "I don't remember" statements, the records are old and subject to misinterpretation. Somebody has really botched this one. Hey, Bahnee, you there? Howcum this took so long? What's your excuse this time?

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