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Man indicted for capital murder of infant

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A capital murder indictment for a man accused of killing an 11-month-old child in foster care. But the defense attorney tells FOX 7 the death was an accident.

A Williamson County Grand Jury charged 32-year-old Jacob Salas with intentionally or knowingly causing the death of Orion Hamilton, who was in the care of her aunt.

Jacob Salas was previously facing charges of injury to a child, now its capital murder.

"He's adamant, and completely truthful in my opinion, that there was no intent. There was no maliciousness towards that little baby and he is devastated for the family," said Jeremiah Williams, defense attorney.

That could all change when this case goes to court, so says former prosecutor Mindy Montford.

"They might very well charge both, so you can have injury to a child and you can have the capital murder. It's going to depend on the proof at trial. If they do find it was a reckless act or he didn't intend to kill the child, then the jury might very well come back with injury to a child and not capital murder," said Montford.

It was on October 19th when Salas, the caregiver's boyfriend, was left to watch 11-month-old Hamilton. But he was never listed as a resident at the home and had never undergone a background check. If he had been checked, a record of DWI, assaults and theft would have popped up.

In regards to the handling of the case, The Department of Family and Protective Services says "although there was clear and repeated deception on the kinship caregiver, there was also available information and indicators of risk that CPS failed to recognize and act up."

They say this is a case to learn from so that foster care can become safer. Montford says often times in child abuse cases you're not going to have evidence like a video camera or DNA, making it hard to show what a person intended to do.

"A lot of times prosecutors will take the injury to a child route simply because the proof, it's a little bit easier to prove. You have several ways to prove it intentionally, knowingly and recklessly and you don't have to show that the person intended to cause the death," said Montford.

She says this could be one factor on why the defense is already coming out strong. Police say Salas admitted to putting the child's head between his leg and the floor.

That isn't what his defense says.

"We do not believe that a capital murder indictment is justifiable," said Williams.

"Accident. When you hear that word, that makes you think you're going to go under the injury to a child statute and try to ask for a lesser penalty and show that the act was reckless and not an intentional act," said Montford.

If convicted of capital murder, Salas could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole. If convicted of injury to a child, at the most he could be liable of a first degree felony punishable up to life or minimum of five years.

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