Injured boy died with only hospital staff at bedside, grandfather's manslaughter trial hears

Surrounded by strangers, Emilio Perdomo, 5, died in a hospital room eight days after he was admitted with giant dark bruises covering his small body, from the tops of his feet to his forehead and everywhere in between, a Calgary judge heard on Tuesday.

Allan Perdomo Lopez, 59, charged with manslaughter in 2015 death of Emilio Perdomo

Allan Perdomo, 59, was charged with manslaughter after his five-year-old grandson Emilio died of multiple blunt-force trauma injuries in 2015. (CBC)

Surrounded by strangers, Emilio Perdomo, 5, died in a hospital room eight days after he was admitted with a severe brain injury and giant dark bruises covering his small body, from the tops of his feet to his forehead and everywhere in between, a Calgary judge heard Tuesday.

When he died, Emilio's mother was on Skype from Mexico, where he had lived until a few months earlier when she sent him to Calgary to live with her father, believing he would have a better life here. 

Now the grandfather, Allan Perdomo Lopez, 59, is on trial for manslaughter, accused of killing Emilio in July 2015, just five months after the boy arrived in Canada.

The unconscious boy survived for eight days after he was brought to the Alberta Children's Hospital with a severe brain injury.

On Tuesday, Dr. Jaime Blackwood testified. She was Emilio's doctor during his stay in the intensive care unit and one of five staff members at the boy's bedside when he died. 

Blackwood said the doctors' primary concern was Emilio's severe brain injury and head trauma but she also noted the other injuries.

'This was not all of the injuries'

Bruises were found on his forehead, behind his ear, on his chest, torso, elbow, upper arms, both knees, shins, calves, groin, the tops of his feet and on his back.

A scar on Emilio's forehead was in the process of healing, and his right elbow was so swollen, doctors were worried it was broken.

A large dark bruise on Emilio's upper left arm looked like an grown-up's grip or hand mark, said Blackwood.

Just before the boy headed in for emergency brain surgery about an hour after arriving at the hospital, Blackwood took as many photos of his body as she could.

"I had concerns about the injuries I was seeing," said Blackwood. "I knew some of that might be affected by surgery, so I took the photos to be able to capture in pictures what I would be trying to capture in words. There were more injuries, this was not all of the injuries."

'Grim' prognosis

Emilio lived for seven days after his surgery but never regained consciousness and never improved, said the doctor.

His brain had suffered such a traumatic injury that an MRI showed multiple areas of stroke, hemorrhages, and damage to his brainstem.

Significant swelling and bleeding caused Emilio's brain to shift to the right and downward.

"We were doing everything we could," said Blackwood.

With a "grim" prognosis, Emilio's medical team met with his grandparents to tell them they didn't think the boy would survive and if he did, "he would never be the boy he had once been." 

Blackwood said Emilio would almost certainly be in a persistent vegetative state and would never again walk or talk.

Grandfather claimed he 'saved' Emilio

Without prompting, Allan Perdomo Lopez began telling the team he'd "saved" Emilio from his witchcraft-practising mother. 

Perdomo Lopez said Emilio's home in Mexico was not a place where a boy should be so he had "saved him and brought him here."

Before Blackwood's testimony, a woman who lived across the street from the Perdomos in the southeast community of Midnapore testified that she once witnessed Perdomo yelling so loudly at Emilio that she could hear it through her closed windows.

It was about two months before Emilio died when Robyn Shields first noticed the boy and his grandfather in their front yard. The child was in the back of the family van and Perdomo was outside.

Emilio 'cowering' under grandfather

As the "loud and angry" yelling caught her attention, Shields said she looked outside and saw Emilio was now on his hands and knees in the driveway with Perdomo Lopez standing over him.

"The little boy had his head down like he was cowering almost," said Shields.

Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Darren Mahoney, Shields agreed that she had not seen what took place immediately before the yelling and she never saw Perdomo Lopez hit Emilio.

Perdomo Lopez's wife, Carolina Perdomo, was supposed to go on trial alongside her husband but earlier this year her charge was stayed by the prosecution.

Prosecutors Shane Parker and Vicki Faulkner said they plan to call evidence including 11 police-intercepted audio recordings.

The judge-alone trial is set to last four weeks before Court of Queen's Bench Justice Richard Neufeld.


Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary crime reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary. If you have a good story idea or tip, you can reach her at or on Twitter at @CBCMeg.