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Omaha woman will stand trial on child abuse charges in death of 9-month-old son

Omaha woman will stand trial on child abuse charges in death of 9-month-old son


An Omaha woman told police her baby fell after standing up next to the couch.

Several doctors, however, told police that the head injuries to the nearly 9-month-old Leovardo Garcia were inconsistent with his mother’s story. The boy was taken to the Nebraska Medical Center on Aug. 3, where he underwent surgery. He died Aug. 26 after being taken off life support.

A judge ruled Tuesday that the mother, Mandy Watson De Garcia, 27, will stand trial on a felony charge of intentional child abuse resulting in death. If convicted, she faces a maximum of life in prison.

A rescue squad was called to Watson De Garcia’s home near 39th and Center Streets at 6 p.m. on Aug. 3.

Omaha Police Detective Stephan Skaar testified Tuesday that Watson De Garcia said earlier in the day that she and her mother had picked up her son from his other grandmother’s house and taken him home.

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Watson De Garcia said her son was acting normally and she was alone with him in the two hours before 911 was called, Skaar said. The mother told Skaar that her son was playing in the living room and pulled himself up to stand next to the couch before falling back.

After the fall, Watson De Garcia told Skaar, the baby let out a high-pitched wail different from what he had done before and had a seizure. Watson De Garcia said she called her mom and said something was wrong before going to a neighbor seeking help.

Skaar said the fall from the couch was about a foot and a half. Several doctors told Skaar that the fall was not consistent with the excessive trauma to Leovardo’s head and that they were not confident he would make it through the night.

One doctor told Skaar that Leovardo’s injuries would be consistent with shaking the baby, Skaar testified.

During a second interview, Watson De Garcia told Skaar that Leovardo pulled a baby gate on himself before falling next to the couch.

Korey Taylor, Watson De Garcia’s attorney, asked Skaar if there was any evidence that Watson De Garcia had improperly treated Leovardo in the past and Skaar said no.

Before the injury, Watson De Garcia had taken Leovardo to the hospital for a fever, Skaar said.

Taylor also questioned the findings of the doctor who reviewed Leovardo’s injuries and said it was consistent with shaking.

Taylor asked for Watson De Garcia’s bail to be reduced, arguing that there was no evidence she intentionally hurt her child and that she will return to court. She also has no prior criminal history.

Judge John Huber lowered Watson De Garcia’s bail from $500,000 to $250,000. She would have to pay $25,000 to be released from jail.

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Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

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