The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Carthage, Jasper County

April 19, 2010

Change of venue sought in death of Carthage baby

JOPLIN, Mo- — The attorney for a Carthage father accused of killing his 8-month-old son is seeking a change of venue for her client.

Eddie A. Salazar, 29, has pleaded innocent to a second-degree murder charge in the Feb. 4 death of his child, Eddie A. Salazar Jr.

Maleia Cheney, public defender for Salazar, is seeking a change of venue because of what the defense maintains has been excessive publicity in Jasper County. A motion filed by Cheney claims that television and newspaper coverage could prejudice Jasper County jurors against her client.

Circuit Judge Gayle Crane took the motion under advisement at a hearing Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin. The judge is expected to rule on the motion in the coming days.

The judge sustained a portion of a motion for a bill of particulars that the defense filed April 1. The defense was asking that the Jasper County prosecutor’s office state more specifically what Salazar is accused of doing to his baby.

The portion of the motion that was sustained reads: “The defendant is entitled to know whether he must defend against the allegation that he struck the victim in the head with his hands, fist or object, or whether he caused the victim to strike his head on another surface, such as a floor, furniture or some other object, or some combination of these things.”

Investigators have not publicly said how the father allegedly killed the child.

An autopsy conducted by the Boone County medical examiner’s office determined that the cause of death was blunt-force trauma to the head. Investigators have said the autopsy revealed a skull fracture and other bone fractures. But investigators have declined to specify what other fractures were discovered or to reveal how the fatal injury to the child was inflicted.

Salazar waived his right to a preliminary hearing, which might have required the prosecutor’s office to call witnesses to testify as to the manner and cause of the child’s death to establish probable cause for the father to stand trial.

The father called 911 at 11:04 p.m. on Feb. 4, claiming that two masked men entered the home while he was asleep and abducted the baby. The boy’s mother, Yadira Aguilar, was at work at the time.

An Amber Alert was issued, and a massive search was launched for the baby and his abductors. But the father’s story began to fall apart within 24 hours, and the baby’s body was found Feb. 6 in Spring River east of Carthage, according to investigators.

Time of death

A probable-cause affidavit puts the time of the child’s death at about 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 4.

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Carthage, Jasper County

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