The defense in the child abuse trial of Jeremiah Lovato quickly acknowledged that the 40-year-old El Paso County man bears some culpability for his adopted teenage son’s injuries.
But that doesn’t mean that some of the 24 counts filed against Lovato won’t be closely contested.
That much was evident moments after Deputy District Attorney Mike Ringle began his opening argument by talking about the events leading up to Lovato’s arrest in January 2010.
“When this systematic torture came to an end…,” Ringle started saying.
That sparked an objection from Lovato’s attorney Shimon Kohn.
After a sidebar with Fourth Judicial District Judge Robert Lowrey, Ringle continued but made no further comments about torture.
Instead he told the jury, “Ladies and gentleman, what (the boy) suffered at the hands of Jeremiah Lovato was the epitome of child abuse.”
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Ringle went on to describe how the boy had been living with a foster family in Oklahoma when Lovato visited them as a prospective adoptive single dad.
The adoption went through. Lovato bought the boy an Xbox game system and brought him back to Craig, Colo.
For the first two weeks everything was fine, Ringle said, but then Lovato required the boy to clean the small apartment every day and if not he was hit with a belt.
“The boy will also tell you of an incident where because he wasn’t serving food quickly enough, Jeremiah hit him in the head with a meat tenderizer,” Ringle said.
The beatings usually happened in the basement of Lovato’s house whenever the boy failed to properly do his household chores, Ringle said.
He showed jurors a picture of a notepad recovered from the home that listed 15 chores the boy was to do.
He also showed them handwritten apologies the boy wrote for not being a good son, for not doing his chores quickly enough and “for interfering in Jeremiah’s life,” Ringle said.
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Kohn described how the adoption officials erred in placing the boy with Lovato in the first place.
But he didn’t use that as an excuse for his client’s actions.
“There have been a lot of mistakes made up until this point,” the defense attorney said. “But Mr. Lovato doesn’t dispute that the biggest mistake was made by him.”
Kohn went on to note thought that one evaluator noted that because of Lovato’s lack of experience as a parent, that children with special needs would not be appropriate.
And yet that’s exactly what happened, said Kohn, describing the boy as having ‘significant mental health issues.”
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El Paso County Sheriff’s investigator Cliff Porter testified Wednesday. He’s the lead investigator in the case.
Porter described how investigators found drops of blood spattered across the basement of Lovato’s apartment.
Blood drops were found on the sofa, the carpet, the side of a desk, a set of dumbbells and on the floor joists, Porter testified.
“We found it all over,” he said.
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The trial is set to resume at 1:30 p.m. Thursday when the boy is expected to testify. Stay tuned to the Sidebar blog for details.