On February 6, 2014, a Montgomery County Jury in 221st District Court found Defendant Yoandry Montano, 31, guilty of the First Degree Felony of Injury to a Child. The indictment charged Montano with intentionally or knowingly causing Serious Bodily Injury to Yastin Lopez, the two-year old son of Montano’s girlfriend, Vanessa Nunez. On October 14, 2012, Rolando Jimenez, who was living in the home with Montano and Nunez, called 911 reporting that the child had drowned. In later interviews Jimenez told Conroe Police Detectives James Waller and Elias Perez that Montano had come out of the bedroom holding the child and told Jimenez that the child had drowned. However, when Conroe Fire Fighters and Montgomery County EMS arrived, they all noted that the child was dry, and they called in Conroe Police Department to investigate.
In multiple interviews, Montano maintained that he found the child in the bathtub but he changed his story several times about the position of the child’s body many times. On October 15, 2012, Yastin Lopez, who had been transported by Life-Flight from Conroe Regional Medical Center to Hermann Children’s Hospital in Houston, died from his injuries. An autopsy performed by Dr. Ana Lopez at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences ultimately ruled Yastin’s death a homicide, caused by severe blunt force trauma to the head. Among the injuries were severe sub-dural and sub-arachnoid hemorrhages in the brain; six separate sites of impact to the child’s skull; and signs of trauma and hemorrhages to the cervical area of the child’s spine. At the trial, which was presided over by Judge Lisa Michalk, prosecutors Sheri Culberson and Amanda Petroff presented testimony by Dr. Ana Lopez and child abuse Expert Dr. Rebecca Girardet, who both testified that the child’s injuries were not consistent with a regular house-hold fall and were not consistent with Defendant’s story. Both doctors further testified that the injuries were caused by the child being shaken very hard and by something hard striking the child’s head, and both doctors testified that there was evidence of old, healing hemorrhages in the child’s head, indicating prior injuries.
The jury, comprising 10 men and two women, took almost three hours to convict Montano, and after a punishment hearing, in which testimony of the Defendant’s prior assaults and aggression was presented by the state, the jury took just under 30 minutes to assess punishment at 50 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Institutional Division. The Defendant will be eligible for parole after he has served 25 years.
District Attorney Brett Ligon was very pleased with the jury’s verdict, saying, “Any time a child is killed in Montgomery County, no punishment can ever feel like enough; but the jury considered the evidence carefully and rendered a verdict that sends a powerful message to this community that justice will be served on those who prey upon the weakest and most defenseless among us.”