Doctor testifies abuser inflicted baby’s fatal injuries
BY JANET LUNDQUIST email@example.com September 18, 2013 4:40PM
Santos Loza | Will County Sheriff's Office
Updated: October 20, 2013 7:40AM
Nine-month-old Kevion Bender didn’t die from a fall down the stairs or some other childhood mishap, a pediatrician said Wednesday in court — the boy suffered child abuse so severe it killed him.
Dr. Emalee Flaherty, a pediatrician at Anna and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, gave that testimony in the Will County murder trial of Santos Loza, 33, who is accused of killing his girlfriend’s infant.
Loza, of Joliet, faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors had Flaherty, who specializes in child abuse pediatrics, detail the injuries Bender suffered sometime before the early morning of Oct. 27, 2008.
The baby had more than 18 bruises and scrapes on his tiny body, mainly on his head, but he also had marks on his arm, back and buttocks, as well as fractured ribs and a cracked skull, prosecutors said.
“This child suffered really severe head trauma,” Flaherty said.
The Will County Coroner’s Office reported Bender died from cerebral injury caused by the head trauma.
Skull fractures are rare in children Bender’s age, Flaherty said, because they aren’t very mobile and their bones are more pliable than adult bones. It would have required more force than dropping Bender or a fall to produce the 12-centimeter fracture the baby suffered, she said.
“My best medical opinion is that child abuse caused all these injuries,” Flaherty said. “He had so many injuries ... and nothing that really explains all those injuries.”
Bender’s mother, Sandra Sitko, lived in West Chicago and met Loza online, defense attorney Joseph Lopez said. Three months later, on Oct. 26, 2008, Loza watched Sitko’s baby while she went to work at a McDonald’s near her home.
Sitko returned to Loza’s Woodside Court residence in Joliet after work with Kevion’s brother about 11 p.m. and decided they would spend the night. Sitko discovered her son dead when she checked on him the next morning when Loza got up for work, about 4:30 a.m. Oct. 27, 2008.
Loza was arrested for Bender’s murder in August 2010. His trial is scheduled to continue Thursday.