Israel Ramirez, 23, is facing one count of intentional child abuse resulting in the death of a child under 12 and one count of intentional child abuse resulting in great bodily harm of a child under 12. Both are first-degree felonies.
The child’s mother, Danielle Lujan, 23, has been charged with child abuse resulting in great bodily harm, also a first-degree felony.
Shortly after 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 17, deputies from the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call regarding a 5-month-old infant who was unresponsive, according to court records.
After learning the 911 call had been placed from a neighbor’s house, the deputies went to a neighboring residence in the 300 block of Las Parcelas Loop and found the Doña Ana County Fire Department already on scene and administering CPR to the child.
Court documents say Ramirez told the first responders that he had been watching the baby, Kamilah Hernandez, for a few hours while Lujan was at work.
The infant – described as purple, unresponsive and not breathing – was taken by ambulance to Memorial Medical Center, where she underwent an initial assessment. There, deputies were advised that the child had “regained a pulse” but was in critical condition, records say.
At MMC, doctors said the infant had several bruises – including on her cheek, her left thigh and her back – as well as swelling on her left leg. X-rays showed multiple fractured ribs, some of which doctors said were consistent with the administration of CPR, but others that appeared older and had begun to heal. A CT scan revealed a brain injury, as well.
Kamilah would have to be transported to University Medical Center in El Paso, doctors said.
911 call, neighbor
Saturday, April 17, began like any other morning, Ramirez and Lujan told police. Lujan woke up and took a shower while the baby was still asleep. Afterward, she changed Kamilah’s diaper and clothes, and then crawled back into bed for a little bit with Ramirez. She put Kamilah in between them, she told police. The baby was happy – smiling and “doing baby talk,” according to court records.
Ramirez watched the baby and his two children from a previous relationship while Lujan drove to a bank in Las Cruces. After she returned, he made lunch for the family before Lujan had to leave to work at her new job for a few hours.
Then she left for work. Before leaving, she gave Kamilah a bottle and put her in her crib, Lujan reportedly told detectives. Ramirez was watching a movie.
About 30 minutes later, Ramirez told detectives, he got up to check on Kamilah, who was sleeping in the couple’s bedroom. The infant had recently developed a habit of pulling the blankets over her head, he reportedly told deputies. He said he found the child was purple in color and nonresponsive.
Ramirez, who allegedly told deputies he had previously been trained in CPR, said he picked Kamilah up and shook her, court records say. He said he then spanked her on the bottom. Unable to revive her, he said, he tried to call 911.
Ramirez told detectives that, because his phone is broken and he can only call his three most recent contacts, he was unable to complete the call. Instead, he called Lujan, instructed her to call 911, and ran with the baby to a neighbor’s house.
The neighbor told police that he began doing CPR, which he, too, had been trained in, and that Kamilah began showing signs of life. Then, he reportedly told deputies, Ramirez took over again; the neighbor said Ramirez was being too rough with the child, and commented he was “beating her up,” according to records.
Lujan left work but reportedly crashed into a pole on her way home and had was taken to Mountain View Regional Medical Center for treatment.
‘Long-term child abuse’
After Kamilah arrived at UMC in El Paso, she was treated by a doctor who specializes in child abuse cases, court records say. The doctor was unable to do a full assessment, due to Kamilah’s condition, but reportedly told deputies that the injuries were “consistent with long-term child abuse.”
Court records indicate X-rays revealed fractures to Kamilah’s left and right arms, her left leg and her ribs. She also suffered “fractures and deformities” to her spine. A second CT scan reportedly revealed brain bleeding, which the doctor described as “consistent with shaken baby syndrome.”
It’s unclear from court records exactly when Kamilah died. But on April 20, deputies spoke to a forensic pathologist from the Office of the Medical Examiner, who reportedly said the infant suffered from a brain hemorrhage “caused by trauma and not something medically related,” according to court filings.
Ramirez and Lujan were arrested Thursday and booked into the Doña Ana County Detention Center, where they are initially being held without bail.