Jury selection to begin in child's death
The Arizona Republic
Mar. 24, 2004 12:00 AM
MESA - Jurors will decide if a baby-sitter killed 2-year-old Jordan Rader two years ago or if the Gilbert boy's death was a tragic accident.
Jury selection is expected to begin today in Rene Ballesteros Jr.'s first-degree murder and child-abuse trial, with testimony likely to feature a battle of medical experts.
Ballesteros, 31, initially told Gilbert police that Jordan drowned. But Ballesteros was charged with murder and child abuse after an autopsy found Jordan had insufficient water in his lungs to drown and died from blunt-force trauma.
Prosecutor Jeff Zick said during a pretrial court hearing that five contusions were found on Jordan's head but that it is unclear how the fatal injuries were inflicted.
David Derickson, Ballesteros' defense attorney, is expected to argue that Jordan slipped while attempting to climb out of the bathtub and suffered a fatal head injury. Jordan had been taking a bath with Ballesteros' 4-year-old daughter that night.
Derickson is expected to call his own pathologist to dispute a medical examiner's conclusion that it's "highly unlikely" Jordan could have suffered a fatal injury by falling in the tub.
Derickson theorizes that Jordan, who had 0.05 percent blood-alcohol content at the time of his autopsy, somehow consumed alcohol found inside his mother's house.
Zick said a vodka bottle was never seized as evidence because there was no suspicion alcohol may be involved until after the autopsy. The fingerprints of Ballesteros and the children were not found on a Kahlua bottle.
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