BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A trial date has been set for a Rogers man accused of killing a two-year-old child in 2021.

Gustavo Enrique Peraza, 31, is charged with capital murder and battery in the first degree. Judge Brad Karren in the Benton County circuit court signed an order scheduling the trial for January 29, 2024.

According to court documents, Peraza was arrested on September 14, 2021, following an investigation by the Rogers Police Department. Peraza was on felony probation at that time following convictions for theft by receiving, fraudulent use of a credit card and failure to appear charges.

A probable cause sheet filed with the court details the police investigation into the death of the child, referred to as “RM2.” It began on August 24, 2021 after the victim had been seen by the Community Care Clinic in Rogers for vomiting on August 20.

Those physicians referred RM2 to Arkansas Children’s Hospital after noting “a concern of blunt force trauma to his stomach or some type of cancer.” Investigators determined that he had routinely been in the care of four people, and all of them were interviewed.

His mother, Breyana Sawyer, told officers that she would take RM2 to meet her boyfriend, the defendant, in Springdale on Mondays when she had to work. When asked if RM2 had suffered any “notable accidents,” she replied that he bruised easily and “always fell while running and ran into things around the house.”

She had no knowledge of “serious falls from elevated places.” She added that Peraza typically told her when “bad things happen to RM2” because he got routinely bruised.

She said he texted her when this happened because he didn’t want to be accused of hurting the child. Next, she told investigators that her son came down with “some sort of illness” and that a doctor informed her on August 8, 2021, that it was some kind of virus.

She said that discipline for her son consisted of “a raised voice and only spankings with an open hand when RM2 required it.” Police next interviewed the victim’s maternal grandparents, who also cared for him weekly.

They both said that they had expressed concern for the child’s safety when being cared for by the defendant with his mother. They added that they had seen “numerous suspicious bruises and other injuries” on multiple occasions.

The grandparents said that these always coincided with the boy being left under Peraza’s care. The grandfather said that he told his daughter “something bad was going to happen to RM2 and she would have no one to blame but herself.”

They continued by describing an injury that looked like a burn on the back of the victim’s hand. They also observed bruising on the boy’s stomach and arms.

Both grandparents agreed to take a Computer Voice Stress Analyzer exam, with results of “No Deception Indicated” for each.

An autopsy on August 25, 2021 found that the fatal injury was “most consistent with non-accidental inflicted blunt force injury.” The medical examiner added that this type of injury was typically sustained from a punch or a kick to the abdomen in children.

After executing a search warrant, investigators discovered that Peraza had deleted all of his text messages with the boy’s mother prior to August 24, 2021. The phone’s location services also never placed him in the area of parks in Rogers where he claimed to have taken the victim.

Officers also found “several suspicious Google searches” in the defendant’s search history. Police then pieced together a timeline of events using timestamps on messages from Sawyer’s phone that indicated a “pattern of injuries” that RM2 suffered while with Peraza.

“He literally was good and he just fell down and I don’t think that was enough to hurt him,” the defendant wrote in a text message just minutes before the child died.

The prosecution has announced that it is seeking the death penalty. Peraza is being held in the Benton County jail without bond.

Sawyer is facing charges of permitting child abuse, a class B felony. She told police she refused to believe Peraza did anything to harm her child.