Infant murder trial begins with fight over evidence

FRESNO, Calif.

Jurors heard /*Eddie Hamilton*/ admit to punching his son in the stomach, but his lawyer says that wasn't the death blow.

The defense is portraying Hamilton as a peaceful person and trying to point the finger at the baby's mother. But prosecutors hope a series of photos will convince the jury Hamilton liked to throw punches.

In the house where 3-month-old Elijah Hamilton died in April 2008, Fresno Police investigators took some simple photos from the bedroom.

The boy's father is on trial for murder and his attorney didn't want jurors to take special notice of the four boxing gloves in the closet.

A homicide detective says Eddie Hamilton initially admitted to playfully punching Elijah on the day his son died.

But coroners say the boy died of blunt force trauma to his abdomen -- a serious blow to the stomach.

And near the end of an 80-minute police interview, Hamilton accepted that he may have used excessive force on Elijah when the boy was crying during a diaper change.

"Do you think you hit him too hard in the stomach?" a Fresno Police detective asked Hamilton in an interview a few days after the boy died.

"I probably did," Hamilton said. "He was just crying a little bit, like (crying sound), you know, crying."

"What did you do?" the detective asked.

"I was like, (striking sound) 'Be quiet', you know?" Hamilton said. "I was like, (striking sound) 'Be quiet' or something like that."

Hamilton admitted to investigators he thought the punch may have been what knocked the boy unconscious, leading his girlfriend, Lashonda Caldera, to panic as he tried to call 911.

"She had came down," Hamilton told investigators. "She was holding him. She was talking about, 'Something's wrong with him. Something's wrong with him.' That's when I woke up."

Hamilton's attorney says his client's admissions don't matter. He has an expert doctor who says the deadly injuries happened days before the boy died, so Hamilton's punch didn't kill Elijah.

Hamilton mentioned to investigators he was abused as a child. He also suffers from a slight mental disability as does Elijah's mother. His trial is expected to last about a week.

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