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Florida Man Gets 15 Years For Toddler's Death, Which He Blamed On His Elderly, Disabled Father

Roland Olivarez will spend 15 years behind bars for the death of his fiancée's one-year-old nephew. Authorities say Olivarez first tried blaming the death on his own wheelchair-bound, elderly father. 

By Constance Johnson
A police handout of Rolando Olivarez

A Florida man was sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty in the 2020 death of a one-year-old boy.

Rolando Olivarez, 31, entered a guilty plea on July 19 to two counts of aggravated manslaughter of a child, according to the Fort Myers News-Pressafter reaching a deal to drop a charge of second-degree murder, Law & Crime reported.

He was additionally sentenced to 10 years probation and ordered to pay more than $1,100 in fees and penalties.

Lee County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a call seeking medical assistance for an unresponsive child at a home in Lehigh Acres on September 17, 2020, according to a redacted affidavit obtained by Law & Crime.

The caller identified the child as her maternal nephew and said her fiancé, Olivarez, was performing CPR while they waited for help.

First responders said that, when they arrived, Olivarez and the boy’s aunt were in the living room “changing the unresponsive victim’s diaper.”

“Multiple first responders noted that the occupants displayed a calm demeanor and none of them appeared frantic, stressed or concerned,” according to the affidavit.

Emergency responders noted that the baby had “multiple marks and abuses,” and the couple said they had not, in fact, tried to perform CPR.

After the child was stabilized, he was taken to Lehigh Regional Medical Center.

Hospital workers told police that the child had multiple injuries including a fractured skull, a subdural hematoma, bruising on his right cheek and bruising on both ears. In critical condition, he was transferred to John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg and put on a ventilator in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. 

The boy died five days later, on September 22.

Medical professionals ruled that died from “a fatal abusive head trauma due to high force impact to the left side of the victim’s head resulting in a skull fracture.” They also revealed that the boy had extensive bruises on his head and body in addition to “extensive bilateral retinal hemorrhages and a lesion on the middle of his back.”

The medical examiner ruled that the baby suffered “a very high force impact to the left side of his head, resulting in a skull fracture and overlying soft tissue swelling” and “retinal hemorrhaging that is consistent with high force acceleration/deceleration and rotational trauma to the eyes and brain.”

Both Olivarez and his disabled 71-year-old father, Ramon Olivarez, were questioned about their possible involvement in the boy’s injuries and death.

After initially denying that the boy suffered from any trauma at all, Rolando Olivarez claimed that the baby “fell and struck his head on an entertainment center,” according to the affidavit. (Medical professionals determined the injuries could not have been caused by a fall.)

He later said he witnessed his father, “standing over the victim and shouting, ‘Get up’ while holding the cane."

The elder Olivarez, however, was confined to a wheelchair after a stroke; doctors also said that the elderly man was no longer able to walk even with a cane. Police determined that the elderly man was probably incapable of “generating the force necessary to inflict the severe injuries suffered by the victim.” 

Law & Crime reported that the younger Olivarez’s children told police that he was abusive, and had repeatedly struck them with his hands and other objects. His daughter had a bite mark from her father on her leg, which police called part of a “pattern of abuse.”

The younger Olivarez also had an extensive criminal history, including arrests for burglary, larceny and other misdemeanor offenses, according to the Fort Myers News-Press.