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Santa Ana Man Arrested in Infant Daughter's Death

November 20, 1994|TRACY WEBER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Police arrested a Santa Ana man on suspicion of killing his 8-month-old daughter in the rented room where his family lived, after the infant was found not breathing, police said.

Jorge Perez, 34, was arrested after giving police inconsistent accounts of what happened to the baby, Santa Ana Police Sgt. Ed Andrade said.

Andrade said officers went to the Santa Ana home Friday afternoon after receiving a 911 call from someone at the residence saying that a baby had stopped breathing.

The department's child abuse investigators were called when the baby, Kenya Perez, died upon arrival at a hospital, Andrade said. Investigators arrested Jorge Perez at the home shortly afterward, he said.

But relatives and roommates of the Perez family said Saturday that Kenya accidentally suffocated while her father slept and that Jorge Perez could not have killed his infant daughter.

"He's a good person," said his nephew Antonio Perez, 22. "It's an accident. He worked every night. . . . He sleeps so hard. He couldn't hear the baby cry."

Joe Ortuno, 17, said Perez, his wife, Clarissa, and daughters Marybelle, 8, and Kenya had been renting a room in his mother's house for about 2 1/2 months.

On Friday afternoon, Ortuno said he heard Jorge Perez calling out "Baby doll, my baby doll." When he came out of the room, he told Ortuno he had awakened to find Kenya face-down in a bucket kept near the bed for trash, Ortuno said.

Ortuno said when he went into the room, Kenya was lying on the bed and her lips were blue. He picked her up and carried her into the kitchen and called 911, he said.

Andrade said coroners were performing an autopsy Saturday to determine the cause of death. Perez was booked on suspicion of murder and was being held in the Santa Ana city jail.

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