Las Vegas Sun

November 17, 2019

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Mom says she accidentally kicked toddler son before he died, police say

A woman facing a child abuse charge in the death of her 1-year-old child told detectives that she accidentally kicked her son while they were both asleep, according to a Metro Police arrest report released Tuesday.

Elizabeth Castillo said she woke up early Sept. 27 but that the boy hadn’t. And since he didn’t make noise, she said she didn’t think much of it and went back to sleep.

“She stated something to the effect of not realizing something so small could turn out so big,” police wrote in the report.

Sebastian was dead three days later from blunt force trauma to his stomach, said police, who allege Castillo “willfully” harmed him.

As of Tuesday, defense attorney Jack Buchanan said authorities had only provided him with the four-page arrest report. The information in the document does not characterize his client as someone who would “intentionally harm her child,” he said.

Castillo maintains her innocence, said Buchanan, noting that the allegations will be contested in court. The North Las Vegas case is in its preliminary stages.

Meanwhile, Castillo — who was arrested on Oct. 9 — was booked on one count of child abuse with substantial bodily harm and is being held at the Clark County Detention Center in lieu of a $1 million bond, jail records show.

Subtle signs that the boy was not well began to surface hours after he awoke. Castillo said she fed the boy his favorite breakfast of eggs and tortillas.

While he would usually eat two servings, he ate half of one, she said.

That night, when the boy and his sibling were picked up to be with their father, who shares custody with Castillo, he also didn’t eat the traditional fast-food meal he was fed every other Friday.

His grandma later recalled that she’d heard a groan when she picked them up, police said. Soon after, the child began throwing up and continued through the weekend, police said.

When he went to bed Sunday night, he appeared lethargic, family told police. Hours later, medics were summoned when the boy stopped breathing.

He died shortly after at University Medical Center.

An examination of his body revealed scars throughout his little frame, police said. An internal examination revealed severe stomach damage.

Detectives questioned Castillo’s odd behavior after her son’s death. She alleged that she suspected the boy was being physically abused at his father’s house, later stating that she’d never seen the man lose his temper with the children.

In an interview with detectives, police allege, she asked if cremating the body would destroy evidence. She didn’t admit to kicking the toddler until after a polygraph test was administered.

Police did not expand on the results of the test.

The boy’s immediate family has a history with Clark County Child Protective Services.

In 2013, someone reported abuse, but the allegations were found to be unsubstantiated. Three other contacts occurred this year, according to a Clark County child fatality public disclosure form.

In March and late August, investigators probed two allegations of abuse but found them both to be unsubstantiated. In June, officials only took an “information only” report.

Castillo said that she raised the August allegations against the boy’s father because she hadn’t believed an explanation he gave on how the boy had been allegedly injured.

The former couple had a contentious relationship, the child’s grandma said.

Sebastian would have turned 2 in late November.