YAKIMA - Nearly three years after initially being charged with beating a Sunnyside toddler to death, Juan Balverde Lopez of Sunnyside was found guilty yesterday of second-degree manslaughter.
Tuesday's jury verdict handed down in Yakima County Superior Court was in connection with the August 2010 death of 2-year-old Benjamin Miron.
According to police records at the time, Lopez was babysitting Miron that August afternoon and accused of beating the child severely enough to cause the toddler's death.
Miron, who was taken to Toppenish Memorial Hospital, was found to have suffered severe blows to his upper torso. Upon an autopsy, the injuries were found to be so severe that they were inconsistent with Lopez's claims that Miron was injured when he was playing with other children.
Sunnyside police initially requested Lopez be charged with second-degree murder, but the county clerk's office this morning confirmed he was found guilty of the lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter.
He is scheduled to be sentenced in Yakima County Superior Court on Friday, April 19, at 1:30 p.m.