Judge Grants New Trial to Plainfield Man Convicted of Killing Girlfriend's Baby
Santos Loza was found guilty in September of murdering his girlfriend's baby but will get another trial.
Judge Sarah Jones said she erred when she limited questions lawyers could ask the mother of the slain baby about her sexual relationship with the man being tried for his murder.
The alleged killer, 33-year-old Santos Loza, was found guilty in September of murdering 8-month-old Kevion Bender. It took the jury two hours to reach its decision.
Kevion suffered broken ribs, a fractured skull and numerous bruises before dying in October 2008. Loza was not charged with the murder until nearly two years later.
During the trial, Judge Jones put restrictions on what questions defense attorneys could ask Kevion's mother, Sandra Sitko, about her sexual relationship with Loza following her son's death. Jones forbade the defense lawyers from exploring the couple's sexual past after February 2009.
Loza's lawyers were still able to establish that Sitko continued her sexual relationship with Loza, and Sitko even admitted on the witness stand that they carried on sexually for months after Kevion's death. Sitko claimed she did so in an attempt to find out how her baby died.
One of Loza's attorneys, Joseph "Shark" Lopez, mocked Sitko's explanation during the trial, saying, "I'm going to crack the case by having sex with Santos."
"Are you kidding me?" Lopez scoffed. "Really?"
Another of Loza's attorneys, Adam Altman, penned and argued the motion that won Loza a new trial.
Prosecutors plan to file a motion for the judge to reconsider her ruling, said Charles B. Pelkie, the spokesman for the Will County State's Attorney's Office.
Loza and Sitko met on the Internet less than three months before Kevion was killed. After the meeting, Sitko traveled from her home in West Chicago to where Loza was living in Joliet about three nights a week to have sex with him. She would bring along both Kevion and her older son, Dillon, on her trips to Loza's place.
Loza moved to Plainfield prior to his arrest.
Loza was alone with Kevion for the first time the night before the child died. He was babysitting Kevion so Sitko could work a shift at a McDonald's in West Chicago. Sitko discovered Kevion's lifeless body on the floor where he had been put to sleep.
After clearing Loza's conviction and granting another trial, Judge Jones renewed the gag order she placed on attorneys last year.
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