Hesperia Murder Conviction: Man Killed Toddler By Placing His Foot on Her Chest and ‘Pressing Down’

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A 25-year-old Hesperia man was convicted Thursday of killing a 1-year-old girl by placing his foot on her chest and applying pressure with his 230-pound frame, prosecutors said.

Scarlett, left, and Daniel Ruiz are seen in photos released by the San Bernardino County district attorney's office.
Scarlett, left, and Daniel Ruiz are seen in photos released by the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office.

Daniel Ruiz was found guilty on one count each of second-degree murder and assault on a child causing a death, according to a statement released Friday by the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office.

Ruiz returned home from work on Aug. 28, 2013, and discovered that his girlfriend was not at the residence, the news release said. He then went to her female friend’s nearby apartment, where the two women said they wanted to go to a store to buy milk and asked him to watch the friend’s two children.

The women were gone for about 30 to 45 minutes, according to prosecutors, during which Ruiz walked over to the victim — a 1-year-old girl named Scarlett — who was lying on the floor, propped up on a pillow in front of a television.

“He then placed his left foot on her chest, applying most of his 230 pounds of weight on her body,” Kathleen DiDonato, a lead deputy district attorney who prosecuted the case, said in the statement. “Scarlett began gasping for breath.”

Ruiz removed his foot, walked over to the TV and changed the channels for two to three minutes. When he turned around, he noticed the girl was having an apparent seizure.

In a photo released by the San Bernardino County district attorney's office, Scarlett is seen about two months before her death.
In a photo released by the San Bernardino County district attorney’s office, Scarlett is seen about two months before her death.

“He tapped Scarlett on the cheek, trying to get her to snap out of it,” the DA’s office said.

Minutes later, Ruiz heard the mother returning home and ran outside to tell her that the baby was having a seizure and needed to be taken to a hospital. Unable to contact 911, the woman picked up her daughter and ran across the street to a fire station.

Scarlett died at a hospital a short time afterward. Two days later, her injuries were discovered during an autopsy, according to prosecutors.

Ruiz initially claimed he “didn’t know what happened, other than the seizure,” the release said. It went on to state that, in a subsequent interview with Hesperia police, “the defendant admitted to purposely stepping on Scarlett due to stress and the fact that he felt the ladies were taking advantage of him.”

According to DiDonato, Ruiz said “he actually felt better after stepping on the victim, as he sat there watching television.”

“The whole time, Scarlett was behind him, lying on the floor, trying to catch her breath — fighting for her life,” DiDonato added.

After being convicted by a jury Thursday, Ruiz was facing 25 years to life in state prison. He was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 15 in Victorville Superior Court.

The DA’s press release on the conviction described Ruiz as “placing his foot on her chest area and pressing down with most of his weight.”

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