Two men who adopted a 3-year-old girl were arrested Wednesday in connection with her death three months ago — after falling down six stairs, they said.
Melody Velasquez died of blunt head trauma Jan. 11, according to a ruling Wednesday by the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office.
“A premature death of any child is terrible, and this is certainly no exception,” said local Child Protective Services spokeswoman Mary Walker.
Matthew Oscar Aranda, 43, was charged with capital murder and his bond set at $250,000. His partner, 44-year-old Norberto Velasquez, was charged with injury to a child by omission. His bond was set at $100,000. Both remained in the Bexar County Jail late Wednesday.
Investigators believe Melody sustained her injuries Jan. 9 and that the men waited 31 hours before seeking medical help. By the time paramedics were called to the couple's home, Melody had stopped breathing and had blood flowing from her nose and mouth. She died at Wilford Hall Medical Center.
Aranda told police Melody was running down the stairs at home when she fell. He was in the kitchen and the couple's other children were playing upstairs, according to an arrest affidavit.
He said he did not see her fall, but when he went to pick her up, he noticed swelling to the front and back of her head, according to the affidavit. He then called Velasquez at work and told him about the accident. That night, the men gave her Tylenol for her fever and monitored her sleep, the affidavit states.
The next day, the men continued to give her Tylenol, and when she was unable to swallow any more, they purchased some rectal suppositories, according to the affidavit. Melody, who was unable to walk, remained in bed all day and through most of the night. It wasn't until near midnight that Aranda said he dialed 911 after noticing Melody was “taking in deep breaths,” according to the arrest affidavit.
The affidavit states the two men were administering CPR to the girl when the ambulance arrived.
Child Protective Services records reveal the girl's life was bad from the very beginning. She was just an infant in March 2006 when the agency removed her and a sibling from their home because of allegations of abuse and neglect, Walker said.
An October evaluation showed she had developmental delays in several areas.
Walker said that from the time the girl was placed with the couple in January 2008 until her adoption at the end of the year, she was regularly visited by CPS, Early Childhood Intervention Services and a child placement agency.
The two men were already caring for three other children when they adopted Melody five days before Christmas. When she died, the other two adopted children — boys now 5 — and a foster son who is 14 were removed from the home.