ActivePaper Archive Charge dismissed in shaken baby’s death - Hobbs News Sun, 7/2/2019

Charge dismissed in shaken baby’s death


• Charge expected to be refiled after new info comes to light in 1-month-old’s death

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Padilla

The Fifth Judicial District Attorney’s Office has dismissed a possible life-sentence charge against a young Hobbs mother, who had been accused of shaking her baby of death.

But the Lea County sheriff says the child abuse charge will likely be re-filed after further investigation.

“We’re doing everything for that child and now the best thing for that child is to drop the charges for right now, but I assure the citizens of Lea County it’s going to be re-filed,” Sheriff Corey Helton said Monday. “There’s no doubt about it. I just need some more time.”

According to an autopsy, 1-month-old Leyon Rey Padilla died in October of blunt head and neck trauma after being vigorously shaken.

After a lengthy investigation, the baby’s mother, Querida Maria “Lollie” Padilla, 20, was arrested May 31 by the Lea County Sheriff’s Office and charged with abandonment or abuse of child resulting in death, a first-degree felony.

Following a first appearance in court June 3 before Lovington Magistrate Judge David Finger, Padilla was released on a $90,000 unsecured bond.

On June 13, the first-degree felony charge was dismissed without prejudice. Charges dismissed without prejudice may be re-filed in the future.

“We dismissed it without prejudice, meaning we can re-file it. It’s going to be re-filed; there is no doubt about it,” Helton said. “We had some information come to light. We sought some experts in the field, and we need a little more time.”

Fifth Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce said dropping the charge against Padilla was a joint decision between herself and Helton.

“The Fifth Judicial District Attorney Dianna Luce in a joint decision with Lea County Sheriff Corey Helton has dismissed the charges against Querida Padilla due to new information that requires further investigation,” Luce said in a June 12 statement. “The Lea County Sheriff’s Office is investigating this matter.”

The statement from Luce had been unknown by the News-Sun until it was posted on the Facebook page of the Lea County Sheriff’s Office the afternoon of June 27.

“The Office of the District Attorney has released this statement regarding the pending charge on Querida Padilla for Abandonment or Abuse of a Child Resulting in Death (1st degree felony),” states the Facebook post.

Luce said Monday she could not elaborate on the nature of the new information that requires further investigation.

“It is still under investigation,” she said in an email response. “I can’t elaborate further at this time.”

Police reports said the investigation revealed Padilla left the baby in the care of her live-in boyfriend — who was 17 years old at the time — the morning of Oct. 12.

Her boyfriend told investigators he noticed the baby was having difficulty breathing the morning of Oct. 12 and he did not know how to perform CPR. He said he called Padilla and his own mother for help.

Helton said the boyfriend may also be criminally charged.

“We got some information that changes the timeline,” Helton said. “That needs further investigation.”

The coroner who performed the autopsy, Dr. Lauren Decker of the New Mexico Office of Medical Investigator, told investigators that Leyon died of blunt head and neck trauma.

“This shaking caused Leyon’s head to snap back and forth causing the brain to impact the front and back of the skull leading to his death,” states the criminal complaint charging Padilla.

Leyon was just 30 days old when authorities say he was killed either the night of Oct. 11 or the morning of Oct. 12.

“Dr. Decker further stated there was evidence of a time lag between when the injury occurred and the death of at least 12 hours,” states the criminal complaint. “Dr. Decker stated evidence indicated Leyon passed away from one traumatic event. Dr. Decker did not feel there was chronic abuse that led to Leyon’s death.”

Police responded to Padilla’s home in the 4100 block of West Comanche Drive at about 9:35 a.m. Oct. 12. Padilla, her boyfriend and Leyon lived at the home. Leyon’s biological father died in a car accident before he was born, according to police reports.

Leyon had last been at a local hospital on Oct. 8 for an out-patient circumcision.

Padilla told investigators she left her house at about 7:20 a.m. on Oct. 12 to take her brother to school and to get a loan, leaving Leyon in the care of her boyfriend. Padilla said she received several calls from her boyfriend who was “freaking out” about Leyon gasping for air and pleading for her to come home.

Padilla’s boyfriend was also interviewed by investigators. He said he became concerned when the baby would not take his bottle or pacifier.

Padilla’s boyfriend said Padilla watched Leyon until 6 or 7 a.m. and that he had heard her talking to the baby throughout the night. He said when he took the baby out of his bed, Leyon was breathing oddly and acting fussy.

Padilla’s boyfriend said he called his own mother shortly before 9 a.m. asking for help. He said he preferred to call his mother rather than 911 and he took a shower until his mother arrived, although his mother had encouraged him to call 911 immediately.

The mother of Padilla’s boyfriend called 911 when she arrived at Padilla’s home at about 9:15 a.m. She performed CPR on the baby at the instructions of the 911 emergency communication specialist.

The baby was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he died after attempts of life-saving measures at 10:22 a.m. Oct. 12.

According to the baby’s autopsy, Leyon would not have appeared or acted normally after the blunt trauma to his head and neck.

“Dr. Decker indicated Leyon most likely (would have) been unconscious after the event, which is contrary to what defendant states,” states the criminal complaint.

However, Padilla told investigators she had been up all morning with Leyon the day of his pronounced death, feeding him every two hours before she left the home and placed Leyon in her boyfriend’s care.

Padilla told investigators she fed and burped Leyon before leaving at about 7 a.m. Padilla said her boyfriend began calling her for help at about 8 a.m.

Two other witnesses, both relatives of Padilla’s who live near her home, told investigators that Leyon was “active, awake and normal” at 6 p.m. the day before his death was pronounced at the hospital.

Police obtained search warrants for the cellphones of Padilla and her boyfriend to provide a timeline of events.

Jeff Tucker can be reached at managingeditor@hobbsnews.com.