West Haven police arrested a man accused of assaulting his girlfriend’s 3-year-old son.
Esteban Nieves, 22, of New Haven is charged with first-degree assault, third degree assault, risk of injury to a minor and violation of probation, police said.
At his arraignment Wednesday afternoon in Milford, the judge set his bond at $500,000.
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West Haven police detectives launched their investigation into the possible abuse of the 3-year-old boy on Feb. 25 after doctors at the Yale-New Haven Hospital emergency room determined his serious injuries were consistent with an assault.
NBC Connecticut obtained the arrest warrant which reveals disturbing details about this case.
The assault took place at the Econo Lodge on Highland Street in West Haven where Nieves was living with his girlfriend and her three young children.
According to the warrant, the 3-year-old’s injuries were bruising to both his ears, stomach and chest area as well as internal bleeding from a liver laceration.
The victim’s 7-year-old sibling told a DCF social worker that his mom’s boyfriend, who they call “Junni,” had pinched both their ears.
WHPD detectives continued their investigation by reviewing surveillance video from the Econo Lodge from the night of Feb. 24.
The warrant describes in detail what happened between 9:41 and 9:44 pm. The detective writes Nieves can be seen slapping and striking the top of the boy’s head, as well as punching him in the abdomen.
The warrant also describes Nieves blowing smoke from his cigarette into the child’s mouth multiple times.
“Despite the large quantity of smoke that is blown in the 3YO’s mouth, on this occasion and subsequent instances, 3YO never coughs and simply returns his bottle to his mouth as if he is already conditioned to this type of abuse,” the warrant states.
Prosecutor Kevin Lawlor said after the arraignment he had reviewed the video evidence.
“Every child abuse case is tough,” Lawlor said, “when you read these warrants you see what’s alleged to have occurred in this case, it’s hard to do.”
On March 2, detectives interviewed Nieves a second time and they showed him the surveillance footage from the Econo Lodge.
“During said interview, Nieves still maintained that he did not know how 3YO sustained his injuries. We advised Nieves that we now knew it was him who had caused the 3YO’s injuries and wanted to give him the opportunity to explain his actions,” the warrant said. “Nieves denied that he ever hit the 3YO.”
Nieves is due back in court in two weeks.