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Coroner rules North Las Vegas toddler’s death a homicide

Updated July 22, 2019 - 7:10 pm

The February death of a 2-year-old North Las Vegas boy has been ruled a homicide by the Clark County coroner’s office.

Jackson James Newman, or JJ, as his family called him, was dead by the time he arrived at University Medical Center on Feb. 5, doctors and nursing staffers told North Las Vegas police.

“They also advised the victim’s physical appearance was one of the worst cases of malnourishment they’ve seen,” a detective wrote in the arrest report for JJ’s father, Chad Newman, 27.

Newman called 911 that morning when the boy stopped breathing in their trailer at 2905 Las Vegas Blvd. North, near North Pecos Road, the report said. Fire crews would later tell the North Las Vegas detective that the boy looked “extremely malnourished” with his eyes and temples sunken in and “super skinny” legs and arms.

He lacked body fat — so much so that the detective compared him to a skeleton — and had bruises on his head and small cuts on his body.

On Monday, the coroner’s office released JJ’s cause of death: blunt force injuries to the head and “neglect of care.”

Two charged

Prosecutors charged Newman and his girlfriend, Haydee Razo, 36, Wednesday with one count each of first-degree murder, child abuse or neglect resulting in substantial bodily harm, and conspiracy to commit a non-felony crime.

Both were being held Monday at the Clark County Detention Center. Newman’s bail was set at $300,000 and Razo’s at $200,000, jail records show.

The boy’s great-grandmother, Jan Mannino, told the Review-Journal on Sunday that Newman was dating Razo, but that she was not JJ’s mother.

Mannino, 80, said bruises, head injuries and other injuries to Jackson’s body were found during his autopsy. The coroner’s office also told the family that Jackson had methamphetamine in his bloodstream and had suffered from pneumonia, Mannino said.

Mannino, a nurse anesthetist, said she last saw her great-grandson at Thanksgiving in 2017, when he looked like a “happy little baby.”

“I went into anesthetics to take away pain and suffering, and to know that baby suffered is just terrible,” Mannino said.

She said that her family’s attempts to see JJ in the months before his death were often rebuffed.

“There was always an excuse,” Mannino said.

JJ’s maternal grandparents told police they had last seen him on Sept. 24, when he showed up to their place with a black eye and a cut above his other eye, but otherwise seemed to be eating solid foods and wasn’t throwing up, the report said.

They tried to visit him after that day but were denied by Newman, they told police. Growing concerned, the grandparents made calls to child protective services and police to ask for welfare checks.

“Each time they showed up to Newman’s they were told by Razo that Newman and (JJ) were not home. (Redacted) told me it got to the point where he feared (JJ) was in fact dead,” the report said.

JJ shared a small room in the “dirty and cluttered” trailer with Razo’s five other children.

The couple told police that the children had been sick in the weeks leading up to JJ’s death. Both Razo and Newman suggested to police that JJ had injured himself while throwing “tantrums,” although an officer challenged that notion to Razo, according to the report.

“When I told Razo that the visible injuries to (his) body were not self-inflicted, Razo said ‘I know, I understand,’” the report said.

Newman implied to police he and Razo had been having relationship issues and “he had been away more than usual,” the report said. He told police that he noticed JJ had lost weight and that the boy’s relationship with Razo had deteriorated the last couple of weeks.

“Newman stated, ‘I knew she was punishing him but not to that extent,’” the detective wrote. “Newman said (JJ) was the only kid that was getting skinnier and who seemed scared of Razo.”

Child found unresponsive

A Department of Family Services report shows that JJ’s family was investigated by child protective services in December 2016, about two months after he was born, after the agency had received a report alleging abuse. The agency ultimately found the allegations unsubstantiated.

The arrest report suggests a child protective services neglect investigation involving Newman’s other two biological children in Visalia, California, although it wasn’t clear when that was or whether it was the December case.

A preliminary hearing for Newman and Razo is scheduled for Wednesday in North Las Vegas Justice Court.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter. Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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