ELYRIA — Luis Lopez never gave Margot Young the answer to the one question she had, why her 2-year-old daughter died, Young wrote in a letter read during Lopez’s sentencing hearing Wednesday.
As Young sobbed with her sister in the back of the courtroom, Assistant Lorain County Prosecutor Laura Dezort read the letter to Lopez, who stood silently next to his lawyer.
“You’ve done nothing but try to cover up what a coward you are,” Dezort quoted the letter as saying.
In the letter, read just before Lopez was sentenced to eight years in prison, Young wrote she didn’t want an apology from her ex-boyfriend, who was caring for Aaviana Payne when she suffered the injuries that claimed her life in 2011.
“You broke a family, a future, a life I thought was real,” the letter said.
When county Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery asked Lopez if he wanted to say anything, Lopez declined.
Lopez, 27, pleaded guilty last week to charges of involuntary manslaughter, endangering children and domestic violence in exchange for prosecutors dropping murder and felonious assault charges. The eight-year prison sentence also was part of the deal.
In a report prepared on the case, a defense expert concluded that Aaviana was injured when she struck her head on the stairs Sept. 11, 2011.
Lopez told investigator he was carrying the girl down the stairs when he slipped and dropped her. Aaviana, who had a broken leg caused by an earlier fall from a bed, told him she was all right. He said he then took her upstairs and put her to bed and she slept for most of the day.
When Young, who was at work when the fall took place, returned home, she checked on her daughter and she was still asleep. Lopez went up to the room later and saw “a red powdery substance on Aaviana’s pillow,” the report said.
The girl was taken to the hospital, but died from what an autopsy concluded was blunt head trauma that caused bleeding on the brain.
Prosecutors have said that the charges Lopez pleaded guilty to were not because he deliberately harmed Aaviana, but because he failed to promptly seek medical attention that could have saved her life.