Las Vegas Sun

September 25, 2021

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Mother blames son, 18 months, in child’s death

The mother of a dead 2-year-old girl said her 18-month-old son and the dead girl herself were the causes of the bruises, head trauma and brain swelling noted during her daughter's autopsy.

Contrary to the conclusions of doctors and investigators, Roxie Southall said her 26-year-old live-in boyfriend Osvaldo Lopez would never have harmed her children.

Police say Lopez beat and shook Jada Southall to death.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Deborah Lippis ruled that there is enough evidence to support that allegation so Lopez will stand trial on April 19 on a charge of murder by child abuse.

Prosecutors allege that while Roxie Southall was working at a Target store, Lopez became irritated by Jada's crying and shook the little girl with such force Jada died due to subdural hematoma, or bleeding of the brain.

Lopez allegedly admitted to a Metro Police detective that he had thrown Jada about four feet onto the living room couch because she was crying after her mother left for work, according to his arrest report.

Southall, who is five-months pregnant with Lopez's child, testified Tuesday that before going to work on the afternoon Jada died, the girl was crying and screaming for her not to go to work.

"She (Jada) was crying and screaming 'I don't want you to go to work,' " Southall said. "When I told her I have to go to work to pay the bills she said,'No, momma, no.' "

After giving Jada a kiss, Southall said she closed the door and left for work.

Southall's face turned red and tears ran down her face as she discussed a phone call she made to Lopez and her children roughly an hour after she had arrived at work.

She said Lopez told her Jada was sleeping and didn't want to eat. Southall next spoke to her crying daughter and said "I'll be home in a little while, I love you." Jada's last words to her mother were, "I love you too, Mommy."

Roughly 45 minutes later, Lopez called Southall at work and told her Jada was non-responsive and he called an ambulance to take her to the hospital. At the hospital Southall said Lopez told her he "picked her (Jada) up and shook her to try and get her to respond."

She said there was no way Lopez would have abused her children. Southall said Lopez never disciplined her children and at the very worst would call them "spoiled and crybabies."

Southall testified Jada's death and bruises found on her body could have been the result of her daughter's clumsiness or blows suffered at the hands of her 18-month-old son.

Southall said Jada regularly fell and hurt herself and that Jada's little brother was "mean and would always try to hit her."

Southall said her son's violence against Jada also included punching, biting and throwing toys at Jada.

One consistent element, however, with all of Jada's injuries was that she only got hurt when Southall was at work and her children were being cared for by Lopez.

She said on Jan. 17 Lopez told her that her daughter broke her collarbone after falling off an 18-inch tall table.

Southall said five days before her daughter's death Lopez said Jada was walking on the kitchen floor when she stepped on a clothes hanger, fell down and a box from the nearby couch fell on her.

She said she had found bruises on her children while bathing them but didn't believe Lopez abused her children because Lopez told Southall he had no idea where the bruises came from.

Lopez had been arrested for violence in the past, according to Metro Police records.

Police arrested him for domestic battering four times between September 1999 and May 2001, and he was convicted of the charge once, Sgt. Chris Jones, police spokesman, said.

Lopez's criminal record also includes arrests for battery and automobile burglary in 2004; drug offenses, possession of a deadly weapon, traffic violations, possession of stolen property and resisting police in 2003; and possession of a controlled substance in 1999.

Dr. Neha Mehta, who serves as a child abuse specialist at Sunrise Children's Hospital, said after examining Jada she found bruises on the girl's back, neck, cheeks, legs, arms and abdomen that were consistent with chronic child abuse.

Mehta said after reviewing X-rays and other documentation, she determined Jada's brain swelling and injuries to be the result of violent shaking caused by "a force that can't be generated by oneself, it would require a significantly larger person inflicting the force."

The doctor said Jada also had dozens of retinal hemorrhages, which were consistent with seen in people who had been in car accidents, falls from significant heights or shaken.

Mehta's ultimate diagnosis was that Jada was definitely abused and suffered from battered child syndrome. Mehta also said after examining Jada's little brother she determined he also had been abused.

The boy has been at Child Haven shelter for children since his sister's death.

After ruling enough evidence existed for Lopez to stand trail Lippis was told by Deputy District Attorney Becky Goettsch that Lopez's family members were allegedly harassing Southall at work and were posting fliers suggesting Southall was the individual who abused her children.

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