December 18, 2014

Elyria
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Suspect in 2-year-old’s death had history of abuse

ELYRIA — The man charged in connection with 2-year-old Aaviana Payne’s death was previously convicted of child endangering, according to Lorain County Court records.

Lopez

Luis Lopez, 25, was convicted of child endangering in 2008, in connection with a June 29, 2005, incident, in which 1-year-old Simone Rodriguez sustained injuries to her chest, according to an initial Lorain police report.

Officers arrived at a residence on the 900 block of West 10th Street in Lorain after Simone had been taken to the hospital. Lopez appeared nervous and asked how she was doing, the report said.

Lopez told police Simone was the daughter of his girlfriend at the time, Kristen Tingle. He had been watching her two children, who had been sleeping, when he took the 2-year-old into the living room to watch cartoons. After that, he noticed Simone’s breathing was very shallow and her eyes had rolled back in her head, the report said. Lopez said he started to panic and retrieved an asthma machine. He added that he was confused about the bruising on the child’s chest.

Lopez also had a bandage on his left hand, which he said was due to punching out a window on a French door leading to the bedroom during a fight with Tingle.

Simone was later flown to Cleveland for treatment. Lopez was not arrested in connection with Simone’s injuries until about a year later, in August 2006. Initially, he was charged with felonious assault and child endangering, but the felonious assault charge was dismissed. It is unclear from records how exactly the girl was injured.

Lopez, after being incarcerated since his arrest, was sentenced to a year of probation for the child endangering charge, and he was not allowed to provide childcare for any children younger than 10 under the terms of his probation. His probationary period ended March 23, 2010, after he served 14 days in jail for a probation violation.

Lopez has also been previously convicted of a misdemeanor assault in 2004 through Elyria Municipal Court.

Lopez was arrested and charged Friday evening with involuntary manslaughter and child endangering in connection with Aaviana’s death. Involuntary manslaughter is assigned when someone dies because of criminal negligence. Lopez had an initial court appearance Monday morning in Elyria Municipal Court, where his bond was set at $250,000 for each charge. His next hearing will be 2 p.m. Monday. Lopez has not yet been assigned an attorney.

Elyria police Lt. Andy Eichenlaub declined to say what led to Lopez’s arrest.

Police were called to a Rosewood Drive apartment in the early morning of Sept. 11, after a 911 call saying Aaviana was bleeding from her mouth. She had no heartbeat and did not respond to resuscitation. She was pronounced dead at the hospital. Lopez had been living at the apartment with Aaviana’s mother, Margot Young, 26, and 7-year-old sister. The 7-year-old is now staying with another relative, said Patti-Jo Burtnett, spokeswoman for Lorain County Children Services.

Lorain County Coroner Stephen Evans determined that Aaviana died from a head injury. Aaviana had sustained previous injuries, including a broken femur and ankle. Her leg was in a cast when she died, and she had grease burns on her arms, but the burns were healing, Evans said in September. Family had said the ankle injury occurred from falling off the bed, and the grease burns had been caused in a cooking accident, Evans said.

Contact Kiera Manion-Fischer at 329-7123 or kfischer@chroniclet.com.