SAN JOSE (BCN) — A 22-year-old man was arraigned Thursday for the sexual assault and murder of his girlfriend’s toddler son in South San Jose nearly two weeks ago.
Manuel Anthony Lopez, of San Jose, has been charged with murder and a special allegation of murder during the commission of a lewd and lascivious act on a child under the age of 14, Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Powell said.
The charges “demonstrate the tragedy and horrific nature of this crime,” Powell said.
Lopez faces life in prison without the possibility of parole or the death penalty if convicted, according to Powell.
Lopez stood in a jail uniform and handcuffed before Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Eric Geffon at the Hall of Justice. He did not enter a plea and is scheduled to return to court on Tuesday.
The victim, who has not been identified, was found during the morning of Jan. 16 unconscious and not breathing at a home in the 300 block of El Cajon Drive, according to a statement of facts filed in court by police Sgt. Patrick Guire.
The child, who was 2 years and 10 months old, was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Guire said.
A doctor from the Santa Clara County medical examiner’s office examined the child, who suffered bruises to his face, genitals and rectum, according to Guire.
The doctor ruled that the child was assaulted about six to 12 hours before reaching the hospital, Guire said.
An autopsy showed the victim suffered from brain swelling, a fracture to his skull, bruises to his cheeks and asphyxia, according to Guire.
The child’s mother, Lopez’s girlfriend, told police that she and the suspect put the 2-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister in the same bed around 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 15 after friends visited their home, Guire said.
The mother and Lopez went to another room to sleep with her 5-month-old infant, according to Guire.
On the morning of Jan. 16, the mother noticed her 2-year-old son was not dressed in the tan shorts and shirt she put on him the night before and was in another bed, Guire said.
The tan shorts were later found in a tied plastic bag underneath a bag of garbage in a trash bin outside, according to Guire.
The county’s Crime Laboratory tested a swab of the boy’s rectum that indicated semen was present and matched Lopez’s DNA, Guire said.
Lopez was arrested at the El Cajon Drive home on Tuesday and is being held in Santa Clara County Jail without bail.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call police Detective Sgt. Pat Guire or Detective Ken Tran at (408) 277-5283. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at (408) 947-7867.