Dead boy’s sitter jailed
Affidavit: caretaker badly beat child days before body found
Authorities charged a 22-year-old woman Friday in the April death of a 5-year-old boy in her care, saying that she delivered a fatal beating that left the body of Julian Salazar Soliz covered with nearly 60 bruises.
According to an arrest affidavit, Nichole Shante Turner badly beat Julian with a belt, also causing severe injuries to his abdomen and damaging his intestines, days before his body was found about a mile from her Wells Brancharea apartment.
Turner told investigators that Julian suffered from vomiting and diarrhea in the two days before his death — symptoms medical examiners said were consistent with his injuries, the affidavit said — and that she realized “she had lost control.”
“There was bleeding observed on Julian’s brain, which correlated to the locations of the contusions on his head,” the affidavit said. “There was scarring wounds to his head, which also indicated that they had been inflicted days prior to the discovery of Julian’s body.”
Medical examiners told Travis County sheriff’s detectives that an examination of Julian’s
Continued from A1 body “showed evidence of both previous and recent trauma to Julian’s abdomen,” the affidavit said.
The arrest brought an end to months of speculation — intensified at a recent custody hearing involving Turner’s children — that Turner could be responsible for Julian’s death.
She was the last known person to report seeing him alive. She called police the morning of April 10 to say that he was not in the bedroom at her Estates at Shoreline apartment at 3501 Shoreline Drive, where she said she had last seen him the night before.
Until Friday, investigators had released scant information about the case but had consistently said that they did not think a stranger killed Julian.
Turner was booked into the Travis County Jail on a charge of injury to a child, a first-degree felony for which she could be sentenced to life in prison. Her bail was set at $100,000.
Julian’s mother, Jessica Salazar, said Friday night that she was notified of a pending arrest earlier in the day and that details about the final days of her son’s life left her in tears.
“It’s not something a mother wants to hear,” she said, crying. “How could anybody do that to a kid? I wasn’t there to stop it. I wasn’t there to save him.”
According to an arrest warrant, Turner told detectives that Julian had been in her care since his father had been arrested March 9 on a charge of carrying a prohibited weapon and described “whooping” him on April 6 for lying. She later said the beating happened April 7.
“She described how she hit Julian with a black leather belt because he had told a lie,” the affidavit said. “Nichole described that as she was doing this, she got a hold of Julian’s hand and he was moving around while she was hitting him with the belt. Nichole said she hit Julian on his buttocks with the belt three or four times. Then when Julian’s pants were down, she hit him with her hand on his buttocks.”
According to the affidavit, she told an investigator that as she was hitting the child, he fell to the ground and that she held him by his wrist.
“Nichole admitted that the belt could have struck Julian on the head and could have struck him in the stomach,” the affidavit said.
Neighbors reported hearing what sounded like furniture being tossed around or someone dropping heavy appliances throughout Turner’s apartment the night before Julian’s body was found.
School officials for Wells Branch Elementary, where Julian was in kindergarten, said Julian had missed the two previous days of school.
Julian’s father, Leonard “Ivan” Soliz, who was released days after the March arrest, has said that he left Julian in Turner’s care and that he had not seen his son during the week before his death.
Last month, a Travis County judge refused to allow Turner to have visitation with her 5year-old daughter, calling statements the girl made in private interviews “horrific.”
If the statements the girl made are true, “then you scare me greatly,” state District Judge Darlene Byrne told Turner in open court.
Byrne made her comments during an often contentious hearing in a case to decide custody of Turner’s two children. Byrne ruled that they would remain with their foster parents. Turner, however, won an additional hour of supervised visitation with her infant son, allowing her to see him for two hours a week.
On Friday, Leonard Martinez, an attorney for Julian’s father, said the arrest will come as a relief to his client. Soliz has been incarcerated in an unrelated assault case since April 20.
Martinez said his client and Turner had been estranged in the days before Julian’s death.
“He will be relieved that somebody has been arrested for the murder and satisfied that somebody is finally doing something on this case,” Martinez said.
Nichole Shante Turner injured boy’s intestines, affidavit says.