SALT LAKE CITY — Criminal charges were filed Wednesday against a couple accused of causing the death of their 4-month-old boy inside a Midvale motel room.
Jose Alejandro Ramirez, 21, of Kearns, and Jessica Marie Lujan, 20, of Salt Lake City, were charged with child abuse homicide, a first-degree felony, and two counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony.
On Jan. 25, Unified police were called to Motel 6, 7263 S. Catalpa Street (440 West), on a report of an infant not breathing. Officers attempted life-saving measures, but police say the boy died at the motel.
Emergency medical technicians who arrived noticed the boy had many bruises "in varying stages of healing," according to charging documents, including the bridge of his nose going up to his forehead, his cheek and his neck. The boy "also appeared to be malnourished."
A witnesses told investigators that about 12 hours earlier, between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., they could hear a man and woman fighting and a baby crying, the charges state.
"She then heard a loud thump on the wall. After the thump on the wall, the child was no longer crying," according to the charges.
Bail for both defendants was set at $1 million.
Also in the room, police found Lujan's 1-year-old daughter. The girl was placed in state protective custody.
When interviewed by police, Lujan told detectives that she hit the infant "because she had a fight with the father … and because the child was screaming and she became angry. She admitted to striking him several times and scratching him with her fingernails," according to a Salt Lake County Jail report.
Lujan then placed the boy in his car seat, upside down, and went to bed, according to the report.
Ramirez also told police "that he both heard and witnessed the infant's mother … throw the infant into the car seat upside down," the report states.1 comment on this story
Ramirez said he then took care of the child after Lujan went to sleep. But even though he noticed something was wrong with the boy, he never called for help, according to the report.
Relatives of Lujan have launched a fundraiser to raise money so they can come to Utah to take custody of her daughter, Anniah.
In a statement to the Deseret News, Lana Greer said, "We are trying to step up and make sure her surviving child, Anniah, is loved and cared for. The abuse and death of baby JR has rocked our whole family. We need help making this happen."