April 17, 2014

Elyria
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Man accused in toddler’s death says girl fell

ELYRIA — In an interview with an Elyria police detective, Luis Lopez said he tripped over a pair of shoes at the bottom of the stairs while holding 2-year-old Aaviana Payne, causing her to fall and hit her back and head on the floor, the day before her death, according to court testimony.

Luis Lopez enters the courtroom at the Elyria Municipal Court on Monday for his preliminary hearing. (CT photo by Bruce Bishop.)

Elyria police Detective Lisa Dietsche testified during Lopez’s preliminary hearing Monday at the Elyria Municipal Court. Lopez, 25, has been charged with child endangering and involuntary manslaughter in connection with Payne’s death, just after midnight Sept. 11.

However, Dietsche said Lopez initially said Aaviana had stayed in bed and slept through the day. She said he then changed his story to include the fall on the stairs. Aaviana had been immobile because of a spica cast, which immobilizes the hips.

After the fall on the stairs, Lopez said Aaviana was awake but would not speak or take her sippy cup, Dietsche said.

“He immediately took her back upstairs, closed the door and didn’t tell anyone,” she said.

Dietsche said Lopez lived with Margot Young, Aaviana’s mother, at a Rosewood Drive apartment beginning July 1 and cared for Aaviana while Young, 26, was at work. Young later came home and checked on Aaviana the evening of Sept. 10, and said she had been snoring.

Aaviana died because of blood collecting on the surface of her brain, caused by blunt head trauma, Dietsche said. Aaviana was in the cast because of a broken ankle and femur, caused by two separate injuries, she said.

Dietsche said she learned Aaviana broke her ankle in an accident after jumping off a bed at the end of July, but no one could explain how Aaviana broke her femur.

“We don’t know how the femur break occurred,” she said.

Dietsche said she learned from interviews with several people that Lopez had been holding Aaviana while cooking and grease had either spilled or popped up, causing multiple burns.

Aaviana did not receive medical care for the burns, she said. Dietsche described burns on both of Aaviana’s feet as “immersion-type,” with a clear line where they stopped.

Aaviana also had a torn and bruised frenulum, which is the piece of skin connecting the upper lip to the gum line. Dietsche said a torn frenulum can sometimes be a sign of abuse, because the injury can be caused by a blow to the face.

The case was transferred to the Lorain County Court, and Judge Lisa Locke Graves denied defense attorney Kenneth Ortner’s request for a reduction in bond, or a personal bond. Ortner said testimony indicated the injuries were accidental.

Locke Graves said she denied the request because Lopez had been previously convicted of child endangering. As a condition of his bond, Lopez is not allowed to have any contact with Young. Lopez remains in custody at the Lorain County Jail. He is being held on a $250,000 bond for each charge.

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