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Man found not guilty in child abuse murder case

Jury deliberates overnight, returns verdict that will set Nigerian immigrant free

Victor Fakoya testifies

Steve Marcus

Victor Fakoya testifies on his own behalf during his trial at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010.

Victor Fakoya testifies

Victor Fakoya testifies on his own behalf during his trial at the Regional Justice Center Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010. Launch slideshow »

It's going to be a good Christmas for Victor Fakoya. After more than two years in a Las Vegas jail on a child abuse murder charges, the Nigerian immigrant will be a free man today.

A Clark County District Court jury came back with a verdict of not guilty this morning for Fakoya in the August 2008 death of 2-year-old Daniel Jaiyesimi.

Fakoya, a soft-spoken man, fell to his knees and thanked God after the verdict was read about 7 a.m. today.

Judge Valorie Vega ordered Fakoya's immediate release. After his items are returned from the Clark County Detention Center, the 42-year-old Nigerian immigrant will try to resume his his life with his wife, Lola, and their two young daughters, according to his lead defense attorney, Norm Reed.

"I expect him to be home by this afternoon," Reed said. "It's justice done. But it's been a long time in coming. And well deserved."

It was the second lengthy trial for Fakoya on the charge. Vega had ruled the first one a mistrial in March and declared a hung jury when she was told after three days of deliberation that jury members were hopelessly deadlocked.

The second trial, which began in November, lasted six weeks. Vega had the jury work most of the day, going home each night with the admonition not to read or listen to any news accounts of the trial.

On Thursday, the trial began at 1 p.m., with the highlight coming when Fakoya took the witness stand to declare his innocence.

The trial went on through the evening and went to the jury about 2:45 a.m. Friday morning. The jury came back with a verdict about 6:45 a.m., when attorneys were notified to return to the courtroom.

Reed said he thought his defense team did a better job in the second trial.

"You live and learn," Reed said. "We made adjustments and got lucky and it seemed to work out to Victor's benefit."

The long ordeal for Fakoya began Aug. 8, 2008. On that date, authorities received a 911 call from Fakoya, who was at home taking care of his own children and Daniel, the son of a couple sharing a home with him, Musadiq and Toyin Jaiyesemi.

Fakoya, his wife, Lola, and their two young daughters, Elizabeth and Christina, shared the two-bedroom home with the Jaiyesimis, who had recently immigrated from Nigeria.

Fakoya, who was a college political science professor in Nigeria, was helping Jaiyesimi get settled until he and his family could afford their own home.

The families had worked out child care arrangements so that at least one of the adults would be at home to care for the children while the other three were working. Fakoya, an accounting manager at New York-New York casino, was taking care of the children during the day on Aug. 8, 2008.

On Thursday, Fakoya told the jury that Daniel had vomited part of his breakfast that morning. And he said he also believed the boy had taken a hard fall in the morning while his father was with him.

After the boy's father left in the early afternoon, Fakoya said the boy vomited again as he was feeding him. Fakoya said he cleaned the boy and brought the children upstairs, putting Daniel on the floor on a comforter.

While Fakoya was working on his computer, his daughter told him to come see Daniel. And when Fakoya did so, he saw the boy was laying on the floor shaking involuntarily.

Medical personnel who examined the boy said he suffered bruises on his body, a skull fracture and bleeding in his brain. Daniel died three days later in intensive care at the University Medical Center.

Prosecutors presented medical testimony that the boy's injuries were consistent with child abuse.

However, Fakoya's attorneys put witnesses on the stand who refuted that testimony, saying the boy could have suffered from a blood clot that caused a seizure. They also said there was no history of child abuse in the family and brought on character witnesses to vouch for Fakoya's non-violent nature.

After the verdict, Reed said he and fellow defense attorney Adrian Lobo talked to almost all of the jurors about the verdict.

"They were very confident in their decision. They hugged Lola, Victor's wife and they were very confident they did the right thing," Reed said. "Victor is such a strong man of moral character."

Reed said calls are expected to be made to get Fakoya's job at New York New York.

And Fakoya also wants to begin pursuing a career in social work. The former Nigerian political science professor received a master's degree in social work in May 2008 from UNLV.

"The main thing is he's going to go home and hug his wife and kids and enjoy the moment," Reed said.

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