GLOBE, ARIZONA-Gila County Attorney Bradley D. Beauchamp announced that on September 11, 2018, Defendant Jess William Anaya was sentenced by the Honorable Timothy M. Wright to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and a concurrent 17 year prison term for the murder of a 22 month old boy. Anaya was found guilty by a Gila County jury after a two week trial. No plea offer was made by the County Attorney, and the State was able to secure a trial date within one year of the commission of the crime.
According to Chief Deputy County Attorney Brad Soos, who prosecuted the case, in the afternoon hours of August 18, 2017, Anaya appeared at the bedroom door of his mother’s house, waking her from a nap, and telling her that the victim, R.C., fell off a wall and was not waking up. The child was still breathing, but his eyes were fixed and dilated.
Paramedics responded within minutes, and approached Anaya, standing in a front yard archway with the child under one arm, and smoking a cigarette. Anaya’s mother, Linda Salcido, told paramedics that the child fell off a wall in the front yard and hit his head. After assessing the child, and not seeing any dirt or debris, paramedics became suspicious and contacted the Globe Police Department. R.C. was unresponsive and blood was coming from his mouth.
After performing rapid trauma assessment, paramedics arranged for air transport to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and transported the child to the helicopter pad at Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center. At the helipad, Anaya was questioned by police. He stated R.C. and his children were playing outside, he went inside to go to the bathroom and get some water, and when he came out R.C. was on the ground. He later told Salcido that he was gathering stuff in the car moments after arriving at the house, and when he turned around he saw the child on the ground.
After receiving emergency medical treatment at Phoenix Children’s Hospital, R.C. was transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit with severe brain swelling. An eye exam by a pediatric ophthalmologist revealed severe retinal hemorrhaging. He was declared brain dead the following day but kept alive for organ donation for several days. An autopsy was performed by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office. The official cause of death was Anoxic Encephalopathy (brain dysfunction) due to multiple blunt impact injuries.
R.C. had multiple bruises and bumps to the head, a ligature mark on his neck, a cut to the inside of his lip, multiple bite marks, and various contusions and lacerations throughout his body, and bleeding from the toes on both feet. According to several medical experts called to testify by the County Attorney, the injuries were not consistent with a fall from a wall less than 5 feet. Key testimony was presented by Dr. Randell Alexander, a nationally recognized expert in abusive head trauma. He opined that based on the multiple impacts, the severity of the brain injury and retinal hemorrhaging, the child was beaten and shaken.
Although the bite marks could have been caused by Anaya’s children, it was undisputed that the severe head injuries were caused while R.C. was in the sole care and custody of the defendant for several hours.
Text messages during that time frame taken from Anaya’s phone revealed that he and a relative were making plans to attend a marijuana “happy hour” at a local dispensary. The child’s mother and Anaya’s then girlfriend, K.C. was at work the entire afternoon.
The defense presented expert testimony from former Maricopa County Medical Examiner Phillip Keen. His initial opinion was that the child could have fallen from a wall. However, when confronted on cross examination with evidence and statements he had not reviewed, he wavered from his opinions and conceded that such additional evidence “raises questions”. The jury rejected his testimony and rendered guilty verdicts after deliberating for approximately 1 ½ hours.
County Attorney Beauchamp commends Detective Keith Charles, formerly of the Gila Count Sheriff’s Office, Officer Eagleton of the Globe Police Department, paramedics, and the medical professionals and experts for their time, effort, and dedication to this case.