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Jury selection under way in second trial of man accused of causing toddler’s death

Trial earlier this year ended up with a deadlocked jury and was declared a mistrial

Updated Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010 | 5:30 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Victor O. Fakoya

Jury selection will continue Friday afternoon in the second trial for a Las Vegas man accused of child abuse in the August 2008 death of a toddler who was under his care.

Victor Fakoya, 42, whose first trial eight months ago was declared a mistrial because of a hung jury, has been charged with one count of felony homicide by child abuse.

Fakoya, a Nigerian immigrant, is accused in the death of Daniel Jaiyesimi, who died Aug. 11, 2008, at University Medical Center after three days in intensive care. Doctors testified the boy was brought to the hospital “in extreme medical distress.”

On Wednesday morning, Clark County District Judge Valorie Vega began trying to seat a 12-member jury from among a pool of 70 potential jurors. Attorneys suggested she also try to get four alternates.

In the morning, Vega dismissed several of the jurors who claimed financial hardship, medical hardship or child care conflicts.

In the afternoon, the jurors were introduced to the defendant, the defense attorneys, the prosecutors and the court staff. They were also told a small amount about the case. The prosecutors, Chief Deputy District Attorney Vicki Monroe and Deputy District Attorney Jacqueline Jeanney indicated they would call as many as 33 witnesses, while defense attorneys Norman Reed and Adrian Lobo said they could call as many as 16 witnesses.

In the afternoon, Vega began the voir dire process, asking the potential jurors questions designed to see if they could be unbiased and objective. She dismissed several who said the nature of their own jobs, their experiences or people they were close to would not allow them to be objective in a child abuse death case.

The judge also dismissed one juror who admitted he had looked up the case on the Internet and reading a news story while outside the courtroom on his mobile phone. He apologized and said he had not yet received the admonishment not to do so. But he said after reading it, he realized he was already familiar with the case.

Vega also dismissed a juror standing next to him who had talked to the first juror about the case and remembered having read about the case in the past. A third juror who heard those two talking was brought in to be asked if that information had influenced him. He told the judge he didn't think he could be objective with a case involving the death of a child because he had grandchildren. Another man who also heard the first two talking about it said he could still be objective.

After releasing several more jurors, Vega recessed the jury selection over the Veteran's Day holiday, telling jurors they would return at 1 p.m. Friday to continue the process.

Fakoya's first trial, which began Feb. 8, was declared a mistrial on March 10 by Vega because the jury was "hopelessly deadlocked."

The toddler and his parents, Musediq and Toyin Jaiyesimi, were living with Fakoya and his wife, Lola, along with the Fakoyas’ two small children, in the Fakoyas’ two-bedroom Las Vegas home at the time of Daniel’s death.

The Fakoyas were helping the Jaiyesimis get on their feet as they adjusted to life in the United States. The Jaiyesimis had moved from Nigeria to Las Vegas in December 2007 after the Fakoyas agreed to be their host family.

The boy was under the care of Fakoya on Aug. 8, 2009, and during that time suffered injuries consistent with child abuse, police investigators said.

During the first trial, Fakoya’s attorneys cited a number of other possible reasons for the boy’s death. They offered theories of a possible infection, an accident or possibly an undiagnosed health condition.

Prosecutors said the boy’s injuries, which included a skull fracture, bleeding in his brain and bruises, were inflicted by Fakoya after Musediq Jaiyesimi left the home after lunch to return to work.

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