A 35-year-old man pleaded guilty last week to voluntary manslaughter in the February death of his girlfriend's 2-year-old son after prosecutors agreed to drop a murder by child abuse charge because of a lack of evidence.
Cory Simmons cut a deal with prosecutors that allowed him to plead guilty via an Alford plea to the charge. The Alford plea means Simmons didn't admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors could prove their case against him.
As part of the deal Simmons agreed to a two- to five-year prison sentence. A sentencing hearing was set for Nov. 14 before District Judge Jessie Walsh.
If Simmons had gone to trial and been convicted of murder by child abuse, he could have faced a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Both prosecutor Pam Weckerly and Simmons' lawyer, deputy public defender Dan Silverstein, declined to comment.
Orlando Morris died in February after being under the care of Simmons, a convicted sex offender.
A Las Vegas police report showed that during an interrogation with detectives, Simmons said he had pressed down on the throat of Orlando, who then vomited and began convulsing. The boy later died.
However, an autopsy report from the Clark County coroner's office found the boy had no physical injuries other than one he received while being intubated by medical workers.
The coroner's office listed both the cause and manner of Orlando's death as undetermined.
According to the police report, there were possible legal issues with the statement Simmons gave to detectives.
During the interrogation, Simmons asked to speak with an attorney, signalling the interview should end.
However, police said Simmons then waived his right to an attorney and told detectives he had pushed on the boy's neck.
A judge never ruled on whether the information from the interrogation could be used against Simmons, because the deal was made before any hearing on that legal issue.
In the police report, police noted they found a sex toy in Orlando's crib and that Simmons was convicted of sexually assaulting a minor four years ago in Illinois.
However, there was no evidence Orlando was the victim of a sexual assault.
Denisha Jackson, the boy's mother, said she had put the sex toy in the crib. The crib was located in the master bedroom of the home on the 6300 block of Rose Tree Lane in northeast Las Vegas.
Along with caring for Orlando, Simmons also watched Jackson's two underage daughters while she was at work. Both girls were at home at the time of the incident. Simmons said he never touched any of the children.
Simmons was never charged with any sex-related crime in the incident.
Simmons told police he took Orlando from the girls' room about 10 p.m. Feb. 16 after the boy started crying.
He said he gave Orlando some chocolate milk to calm him and then took the boy to his bedroom. Orlando then began to choke on the milk. He pressed down on the throat of the 2-year-old for several minutes until the boy vomited and began convulsing, according to a police report. Simmons then called 911.
Orlando died at University Medical Center.
Contact reporter Francis McCabe at email@example.com or 702-380-1039.