Crime

Merced County boy’s death was not accidental, judge rules. Was it the mother, or her boyfriend?

Merced County mother, boyfriend arraigned on charges in death of 4-year-old boy

Chanish Conrady, 22, of Los Banos and her boyfriend Steve Perez Jr. 27, of Dos Palos, were arraigned on charges in connection with her 4-year-old's death at Merced County Superior Court in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018.
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Chanish Conrady, 22, of Los Banos and her boyfriend Steve Perez Jr. 27, of Dos Palos, were arraigned on charges in connection with her 4-year-old's death at Merced County Superior Court in Merced, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018.

A Merced County judge has determined the mother of a 4-year-old Dos Palos boy and her boyfriend will stand trial together for allegedly causing injuries leading to the child’s death.

Judge Mark Bacciarini determined Thursday there was ample evidence to try Chanish Conrady, 22, and Steve Perez Jr., 27, in the death of Kyis Conrady.

Perez has been charged with a count of assault on a child causing death and one count of child abuse, according to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office. Conrady has been charged with three counts of child abuse, prosecutors said.

A coroner testified the child died due to blunt trauma consistent with injuries from being punched or kicked, according to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office.

Both defendants have suggested the other person could have been responsible for the blunt force trauma injuries that caused the child’s death. Conrady’s charges were reduced Thursday from homicide to child abuse.

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Steven Perez Jr., 27, of Dos Palos. Photo courtesy of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.

Several deputies and officers from the Merced County Sheriff’s Office and Dos Palos Police Department testified Thursday about the night of Nov. 7 last year, when authorities responded to calls of a child apparently having seizures at a Dos Palos home on Ida Street.

The child was rushed by ambulance to Los Banos Memorial Hospital, where he later died, according to a news release

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Chanish Conrady, 22, of Los Banos. Photo courtesy of the Merced County Sheriff’s Office.

Conrady initially told detectives she was sleeping when Perez woke her up and told her that her child was having seizures and wasn’t breathing.

Perez claimed he was in the living room when the child, Kyis, came in to tell him he had a stomach ache and needed to vomit, according to investigation reports. Perez said he gave Kyis water after he vomited and put him back to bed.

Perez said he was then was “dozing off” on a couch when he heard Kyis come out of his room and a loud thud, the reports state. When he checked on Kyis, Perez noticed the child’s body was stiff and he was struggling to breathe. Perez then called 911.

But investigators said Dos Palos officers were familiar with the home because there were several calls alleging child abuse in the month leading to Kyis’ death.

Merced County Child Protective Services responded to two incidents, one at Valley Children’s Hospital and the other at Los Banos Memorial Hospital, according to reports. The agency also investigated claims by the families of Conrady and Kyis’ biological father that the child was abused by the other parent.

During the preliminary hearing Thursday, defense attorney Jeffrey Tenenbaum asked the coroner if a women could have caused the injuries. The coroner said it was possible.

“Mr. Perez was watching television while the child was spending alone time with his mother,” Tenenbaum said, suggesting the child could have been injured before coming to Perez with his stomach ache.

But Conrady’s attorney Katie Reed said her client was sleeping during the incident, and has demonstrated responsibility in taking her child to the hospital and informing authorities of previous incidents of possible child abuse.

Conrady remains in jail in lieu of $300,000 bail, while Perez is being held in lieu of $500,000.

Their next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 15.

If convicted, Perez could face up to life in prison. Conrady, if convicted, could be face up to eight years and eight months in prison.

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