Ohio man batters girlfriend's toddler to death while babysitting, cops say he 'disciplined her for crying'
The child suffered severe brain bleeding and a surgeon had to remove part of the girl's skull to relieve the pressure
CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OHIO: A man allegedly killed his girlfriend's 18-month-old daughter, who was found to have died of a fatal head injury. 31-year-old Devon Mallory is being held on a $1 million bond in the Cuyahoga County Jail on charges of aggravated murder, according to Cleveland.com. Mallory is accused of killing little Sofia Echevarria, who died on July 30 — five days after being taken to University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital.
While investigators are yet to determine what exactly happened, Mallory is reportedly accused of lying to the authorities. According to police and court records, his version of events surrounding Sofia's death is inconsistent with the findings of doctors and the Cuyahoga County medical examiner. Police reports state the infant suffered severe brain bleeding. In fact, a surgeon had to remove part of the girl's skull to relieve the pressure. Furthermore, doctors asserted that her injuries did not appear accidental.
According to police reports, Mallory had a history of "harshly disciplining the girl when she cried, specifically when she cried for her mother’s attention," per Cleveland.com. The suspect, in the days leading up to Sofia's death, forcefully held her face away from her mother as she cried. In another instance, he punished her by forcing her to sit on a dining room table without moving because she was crying for her mother. Police reports indicated that injuries from those incidents later showed up in her autopsy.
On July 25, Mallory was babysitting "Sofia, another 4-year-old girl, and his own 3-year-old son" while Sofia's mother was working her day shift at a fast-food restaurant in Westlake. At 5 pm, he called the girl's mother and told her she was breathing abnormally and wouldn't wake up. Mallory dialed 911 and the girl's mother arrived home "about the same time as the ambulance," per the authorities.
During interrogation, Mallory told detectives that Sofia was playing with the other children when he fell and hit her head on a Nerf gun. He further claimed he wasn't in the room when it happened, and told the same version of events to the girl's mother. The four-year-old girl at the home, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told police Sofia fell off a bed and hit her head. Mallory also told police that's what he believed happened. However, neither of those explanations are consistent with the victim's injuries, per police reports.
Sofia's injuries weren't due to a fall, but rather a “high-velocity injury that was inflicted” and not accidental, the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner determined. Her death was ruled a homicide from blunt force trauma to the head. When Mallory was confronted with autopsy results, he told detectives Sofia may have fallen in the shower. However, that is also not consistent with the medical examiner's findings.
According to police records, Mallory has one prior felony conviction. In February, he pleaded guilty to assault after allegedly pushing the mother of his 3-year-old son down a flight of stairs. Court documents state the woman was walking up the stairs on crutches after a fight and broke her wrist after being pushed by the suspect. At the time, Mallory was sentenced to one year on probation.