Raymond Gonzalez continued to maintain his innocence Thursday morning as he prepared to be sentenced for manslaughter in the death of his former girlfriend’s toddler son.
Standing before Justice Penny M. Wolfgang Thursday, Gonzalez, 39, called his situation “totally unfair,” while also saying “I refuse to let this define me.”
“Those who know me, my family and my friends, know I have a good heart and know I did not do this crime,” he said.
But the judge, who had found Gonzalez guilty in a non-jury trial, noted that 13-month-old James Velasquez died from multiple blunt trauma injuries and that Gonzalez later lied to police about having been alone with the child.
As Gonzalez hung his head and cried, Wolfgang sentenced him to 10 years in prison. She also ordered that he get counseling for issues of child abuse and anger management.
Gonzalez, 39, was convicted in August of causing the fatal injuries to James when Erika Velasquez left him to watch the child on May 2, 2010.
Velasquez, James’s mother, also was in court Thursday and gave the court an entirely different view of the events than Gonzalez.
In a loving statement about her lost son and the grief she suffered following his death, she never mentioned Gonzalez. She told of her joy in becoming a mother for the first time, of hearing James’s first words and watching him take his first steps.
“I was very proud of him and of myself,” she said. “I remember his first trip to the zoo at age 8 months – he wanted to see everything.”
During Gonzalez’s trial, Velasquez testified that Gonzalez had always been good with the little boy and she had no misgivings about leaving her son with him on a Sunday afternoon while she and her mother went grocery shopping. When she got home 90 minutes later, the baby seemed all right and was sleeping, she had testified, but by evening he was fussing, vomiting and gasping for air. Against Gonzalez’s wishes, she said, she called 911 and James was taken to Women & Children’s Hospital.
Although there were no visible bruises, it turned out James had sustained serious damage to his brain, leaving it swollen and bleeding. He died on May 3, 2010.
Velasquez on Thursday told the court that she was so distraught after her son’s death that she attempted suicide. Luckily, she said, her parents found her in time.
“My parents said, ‘We lost James. We do not need to lose our daughter, too,’” she said.
Velasquez said she had a daughter in 2011, giving her a second chance at motherhood. Still, she is “super-cautious” about the people who she allows around her little girl. She finished by reflecting that, had he lived, James would be 7 years old now.