ANGELINA COUNTY, Texas (KETK) – An arrest warrant affidavit for an Angelina County couple charged with the murder of a toddler cites “an effort to cover up or hide the truth” in the death of that child.
Legend died on April 25. His babysitter, JoKitha Oliphant, called EMS when Legend, left in her care by Holman and Nuñez, stopped breathing.
Legend was taken to a Lufkin hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
According to the affidavit, a judge ordered an autopsy, which was carried out the next day. In the course of that autopsy, the medical examiner found two round scars on Legend’s legs, one on the bottom of his foot, and two on his chest.
Legend had been previously treated at Texas Children’s Hospital for a broken arm and severe sinus infection. In the weeks that followed, sores appeared on his body that Holman claimed were a result of an impetigo infection.
In the autopsy, the medical examiner said the injuries on the child’s legs were consistent with cigarette burns and not impetigo. He said impetigo would not leave scars that were perfectly round, while cigarette burns would.
The medical examiner also found blood in Legend’s stomach. He found a large laceration in the child’s liver, and possibly an older laceration that was trying to heal. He noticed a large laceration in the child’s pancreas and hemorrhaging on both sides of the boy’s spine.
According to the affidavit:
(The medical examiner) advised that an extreme, direct blow or squeezing to the area or bending of the child could have caused the injuries. He also advised that damage to the pancreas could have caused a fever and digestive problems. He ruled the manner of death a homicide and the cause of death as multiple blunt force trauma due to child abuse.
Lufkin PD launched an investigation into Legend’s death.
Detectives found that Holman and Nuñez had met six months before and Nuñez had moved into Holman’s home with her, Legend, and her two daughters, ages 6 and 4.
Prior to Nuñez moving into the residence, the affidavit noted, Legend had no medical injuries documented.
On February 9, though, Holman took Legend to a pediatric clinic in Lufkin for blisters. During that visit, a nurse noticed multiple blisters, a swollen lip, a healing forehead abrasion, a healing laceration to the right nostril, multiple healing lacerations to the torso and multiple “flat” marks on his left leg.
Follow up and wellness check visits were scheduled, but Holman missed those appointments.
On February 26, the affidavit states, Legend was admitted to Woodland Heights Medical Center Emergency Department in Lufkin for a swollen right elbow/arm. He was diagnosed with a displaced fracture of the lateral condyle of the right humerus and transferred to Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston for a higher level of care.
According to the affidavit, Holman told the ER staff that Legend had slipped while she was taking him out of the bathtub earlier that day and she had grabbed his arm to prevent him from falling into or onto the bathtub.
A doctor at Texas Children’s Hospital observed the fractured right elbow, two lesions to the lower leg “that were concerning for burns from cigarettes,” an upper lip frenulum tear, and abrasion on the right side of his neck.
“The combined injuries were concerning for non-accidental trauma,” the affidavit said.
On March 6, a CPS investigator at Legend’s daycare noticed the cast on his arm and a healing blister on the bottom of his foot. She contacted the Lufkin Police Department and a child abuse investigation was begun.
The investigation lasted several days. Holman claimed she accidentally broke Legend’s arm while getting him out of the bathtub and denied that Nuñez had any involvement in the incident. She also denied the injuries on Legend’s legs and feet were cigarette burns and claimed they were from impetigo, a disease of which Legend had no medical history.
During his interview, Nuñez claimed Holman accidentally broke Legend’s arm while playing with him in the bathtub. He denied hurting the child’s arm and denied burning him with a cigarette.
During their interviews, Holman’s two other children claimed they had seen Nuñez hurting Legend’s arm when their mother was away.
The affidavit said that police and CPS investigators met with an assistant district attorney in an effort to get a warrant on Nuñez for injury to a child. The ADA advised them that, since Holman claimed she had accidentally broken her child’s arm, there was not enough evidence for a successful prosecution. No charges were filed.
Police and CPS investigators did go to Holman’s residence to put together a Safety Plan with her. According to arrest documents, a safety plan is used only when there is a specific threat to a child in the immediate or foreseeable future. The safety plan stated that CPS was concerned about Legend’s injuries over the previous months and how he incurred them. The department was also concerned about Legend being alone with Nuñez and feared the boy might suffer further injuries.
According to the plan, Nuñez was not allowed any unsupervised contact with Legend. Holman signed it, as did her mother and grandmother. Angel Nunez initialed it.
The LPD had no further contact with the family until Legend was taken to CHI St. Luke’s Hospital and pronounced dead.
According to the affidavit, JoKitha Oliphant was babysitting Legend when he stopped breathing. Holman and Nuñez had dropped Legend and Holman’s daughters off about 45 minutes to an hour prior to Legend’s death.