Rogers man arrested in capital murder case involving two-year-old child

Northwest Arkansas News

ROGERS, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Rogers police have made an arrest in a capital murder case of a two-year-old child.

According to a news release from the Rogers Police Department, Gustavo Enrique Peraza, 29, was arrested on a warrant for capital murder and first degree battery.

Gustavo Enrique Peraza, 29 booked into the Benton County jail on September 14, 2021. | Benton County Sheriff’s Office

On Tuesday, August 24, Rogers police were notified by Mercy Hospital in regards to the death of the child.

Detectives responded and initiated an investigation into the death and the child’s body was sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock for an autopsy.

The release says the result of the autopsy showed the child’s death was caused by a blunt force traumatic injury to the child’s abdomen.

Court documents say the child’s body was examined for external trauma. There were several bruises on the toddler’s face, arms, legs and torso.

The documents say the conclusion of the autopsy showed the cause of death was from traumatic injury most consistent with non-accidental inflicted blunt force injury.

According to the documents, this type of injury was typically sustained from a punch or a kick to the abdomen.

After an investigation, Rogers police arrested Peraza. Peraza was booked in the Benton County Jail and is being held for a bond hearing.

Court documents show the child’s maternal grandparents had expressed concern for the child’s safety while being cared for by Peraza and the child’s mother. They both told police they observed numerous suspicious bruises and other injuries on the child on multiple occasions.

The grandparents also told police they noticed an injury that looked like a burn on the back of the child’s hand as well as bruises on the child’s stomach.

The child’s grandmother said on Thursday, August 19, the child became extremely sick. She said he typically vomited a substance that she described as curdled milk. However, this time she noted that the child was vomiting a brownish substance that smelled like vomit while he slept with her.

The grandmother told police the toddler had been vomiting all morning. She said she woke up early in the morning by the child vomiting which continued until around 11 a.m. that morning.

The grandmother says her daughter took her grandchild to the Community Clinic on Friday, August 20. The grandmother says she went from the Community Clinic to Arkansas Children’s Hospital and got home late that night.

The grandmother told police the mother had taken the child to Peraza the prior Monday. Documents say the mom rushed the child to the hospital on August 23 where life-saving efforts were attempted.

Documents say Peraza texted the mother saying “he literally was good and he just fell down and I don’t think that was enough to hurt him.”

The mother told Peraza to give the hospital’s front desk his name and they would bring him back with her. Peraza responded by texting, “They’re not bringing me back there.”

The child was pronounced dead a few minutes later. It wasn’t until after the child had died that Rogers police were notified.

Court documents say the text history between Peraza and the mother illustrated a pattern of the child sustaining injuries while under Peraza’s care.

Peraza’s Google search history regarding being hit in the stomach coincided with the times he texted the mother that the child became ill indicated the child’s illness was due to being hit in the stomach, according to the documents.

Documents say the autopsy report of non-accidental blunt force trauma to the stomach indicated Peraza had repeatedly struck the child in the stomach which caused the injury to the child’s intestine.

Peraza had previously stated that the child had fallen at the park, but those statements were later refuted by his phone’s device history. Peraza had admitted in an earlier interview that he never took the child to a park and he kept the child in his vehicle as they drove around while the mother was at work.

The documents say there was no event that would have inflicted an injury as serious as the one the child sustained from a fall which ruled out any means of accidental infliction of injury.

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