Testimony by law officers and videotaped statements by Eddie Salazar Sr. himself established on Tuesday that Salazar Sr. killed his son on Feb. 4, 2010.
What is still to be settled is whether the death was an act of rage or a terrible accident.
Jasper County Prosecuting Attorney Dean Dankelson and Assistant Prosecutor Norman Rouse led a parade of law enforcement officers and video- and audio-taped statements by the defendant himself in the Jasper County Courtroom of Judge Gail Crane on Tuesday.
In the statement, Salazar Sr. told four different evolving versions of what happened in the home at 227 E. Mound St., to eight-month-old Eddie Salazar Jr.
With the officers that questioned Salazar Sr. on the stand confirming the authenticity of the videos and audios, the defendant starts out with his claim that two masked men broke into his home and kidnapped the baby.
He claimed that an acquaintance kidnapped the child to force Salazar Sr. to sell drugs for him.
In questioning on Feb. 5, 2010, by Missouri State Highway Patrol Lt. Roger Renken and Carthage Police Det. David Strubberg, Salazar admitted he lied about the kidnapping and said his fiancé’s two-year-old son was playing with the baby on the sofa and accidentally pulled the baby off the sofa.
Salazar Sr. said the baby hit a toy truck on the floor. He said he picked the baby up, changed his diaper and put him in his crib with a bottle. When he returned to check on the child 20 minutes later, the baby was not breathing.
Salazar Sr. said he tried to do CPR on the baby, but the child didn’t respond. Salazar Sr. then said he panicked and took the baby’s body to a bridge east of Carthage and put it in the woods.
In a third round of videotaped questioning with Carthage Police Capt. Randee Kaiser and Police Lt. Bill Hawkins, Salazar admitted he had shaken baby Eddie and changed his story about how he disposed of the body.
This time he admitted he threw the body off the Spring River Bridge at Morrow Mill Road.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Trooper Mike McClure almost broke down on the witness stand as he described finding Eddie Salazar Jr.’s tiny body hanging by a leg on a log in a root ball in the river exactly six-tenths of a mile downstream from the Morrow Mill bridge.
The jury was briefly shown two pictures of the baby’s body after it had been recovered.
Carthage Police Capt. Kaiser was on the witness stand for most of the afternoon, nearly four hours, listening to video taped and audio taped statements made by Eddie Salazar Sr., mostly after the baby’s body was recovered.
In Salazar’s statements he finally admits that he shook the baby and in his words, the baby “slipped out of my hands,” and hit the hard ceramic tile floor in the family room.
In the audiotaped statement, Kaiser can be heard saying he thought Salazar Sr. deliberately threw his son to the floor.
“I think you were shaking him and you were angry and you let him go,” Kaiser said in the taped interview. “I think you were frustrated to the point where you let go of him.”
“No, no I didn’t let him go,” Salazar is heard saying on the tape.
In his cross examination of Kaiser and Renken, Defense Attorney Larry Maples got both officers to admit that Salazar Sr. never said he intentionally killed his son.
Maples and Kaiser debated whether Salazar Sr., in the audio taped testimony, said he “loosened” his grip, as Kaiser claimed, or “looses” his grip, as Maples claimed.
The trial continues today with forensic testimony from the prosecution and the possibility that the defense will begin its case.