Joliet man guilty of murder in beating death of 9-month-old
BY JANET LUNDQUIST firstname.lastname@example.org September 24, 2013 1:20PM
Santos Loza | Will County Sheriff's Office
Updated: October 26, 2013 6:26AM
A Will County jury on Tuesday found a Joliet man guilty of murder in the beating death of a 9-month-old boy while he baby-sat him in October 2008.
The jury deliberated for two hours before finding Santos Loza guilty, agreeing that he killed Kevion Bender while he watched the infant alone at Loza’s home. His sentencing date is expected to be set at a Dec. 4 hearing. Loza, 33, faces up to 100 years in prison.
“Santos Loza was in over his head. He didn’t know what he was doing,” Assistant State’s Attorney Derek Ewanic told jurors in his closing argument. “Santos Loza lost it, and he began viciously beating Kevion Bender.”
Loza told police that the baby was crying when his mother, Sandra Sitko, left for work about 4 p.m., but he and the baby sat on a couch and lay on a bed to watch football and baseball on TV until Loza put the infant to bed about 10 p.m.
Sitko testified that she returned to Loza’s Woodside Court residence with Kevion’s brother about 11 p.m. and spent the night. When she awoke at 4:30 a.m., she checked on the baby and found him cold, stiff and lifeless, she told jurors.
Loza, who denied that he ever struck Kevion, was questioned by police several times before he was arrested in August 2010. The lengthy time between the baby’s death and Loza’s arrest, nearly two years, was because authorities were waiting for forensic test results, according to prosecutors.
They argued at trial that Loza became so irritated by the teething baby’s crying that he beat him unconscious, causing broken ribs, a skull fracture and bruises on his head and buttocks. The baby died from head injuries that a forensic pathologist said occurred four to eight hours before he died.
Defense attorneys contended that prosecutors were not able to prove what time the baby’s injuries were inflicted, who inflicted them or how.
Prosecutors also didn’t prove that the baby was crying all night, as Loza’s texts to Sitko that night said the child was fine, defense attorney Joseph Lopez said in his closing argument.
“This case is riddled with all kinds of doubt,” Lopez told the jury. “The evidence was inconclusive (at the time), it’s inconclusive now.”