Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ontario man convicted for toddler’s 2013 death

Michael Lucero (Booking Photo)
Michael Lucero, 22, of Ontario was convicted Monday of beating his girlfriend’s 2 ½-year-old son to death in April 2013. After deliberating for five hours, a Rancho Cucamonga jury found Lucero guilty as charged of second-degree murder and assault on a child causing death. He faces 25 years to life in state prison when he is sentenced on Oct. 20. Judge Gregory Tavill ordered Lucero remanded into custody after the verdict. Lucero had been free on bail since July 2013.

The victim, Xzavier Taccati, was brought to Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Ontario on April 4, 2013, after he lost consciousness at his home in the 1100 block of East Philadelphia Street. He was later transferred to Loma Linda University Medical Center where he died following emergency surgery.

The cause of death was blunt force head injury with a contributing cause of blunt force abdominal injury. Dr. Frank Sheridan, the county’s chief medical examiner, testified that Xzavier suffered a skull fracture with subdural and subarachnoid hemorrhage to the brain, causing his brain to swell. Dr. Sheridan said that the child was either hit with a heavy object or his head was slammed against something. Xzavier also suffered a previous injury, laceration of the pancreas and damage to his bowel, caused by blunt force from a strong blow to the abdomen.

Lucero provided child care for the victim while his girlfriend was at work. 
Xzavier Taccati

At trial, Deputy District Attorney Karen Schmauss presented evidence that Lucero was extremely jealous and controlling of the victim’s mother. During the days before Xzavier’s death, Lucero complained bitterly in text messages about having to clean up the ill child’s mess when he threw up. He was also angry at the mother for staying at work later than he wanted her to stay, which was a reoccurring theme in their relationship.

Xzavier’s face and body were covered with bruises when he was rushed to the hospital. The defense claimed that Lucero never struck the child and his mother was responsible.

“It was a long, difficult trial, which was very hard on the child’s mother and grandmother, who had to endure repeated attacks on their character,” said Schmauss. “Fortunately, Xzavier finally got justice.” 

Schmauss praised the Ontario Police Department for its thorough investigation, and said she was grateful for the help of the lead detectives, Sgt. Justin Johnson and Det. Jeff Wentz. “I could not have won this case without them,” she said.

In The News:

ABC: Ontario man found guilty of beating girlfriend's 2-year-old son to death

Inland Valley Daily Bulletin: Ontario man convicted of beating 2-year-old to death

Press Enterprise: Mom's boyfriend convicted of murder in toddler death

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