EPPD officer Licon not guilty in baby's bathtub drowning

Judge drops two charges against EPPD officer

EPPD officer not guilty in death of baby

EL PASO, Texas - A Jury has ruled El Paso Police officer Raymond Licon Jr. is not guilty for the bathtub drowning of his 11-month-old son. 

Licon broke down in tears and hugged his defense attorney Tom Hughes after the verdict came down. 

Hughes told ABC-7 he expects Licon to resume his police officer duties soon. "I talked to the union. I don't see see why he wouldn't go back to full duty. He has been acquitted by a jury of his peers.
I'm elated and I'm so happy for the Licon family. Raymond is one of the nicest young men that I met in the last two three decades - a fine young man," Hughes said. 

During closing arguments, Hughes told the jury Licon was "living in a self-made prison" and there was no reason he should be found guilty for the death.

Licon - who remained with the El Paso Police Department on desk duty, was charged with Abandoning and Endangering A Child, Reckless Injury to a Child and Criminal Negligent Homicide.

Thursday morning, the judge acquitted Licon of Abandoning and Endangering a Child and Criminal Negligent Homicide. The jury had to reach a verdict on the charge of Reckless Injury to a Child.

In its closing argument, the defense also said what happened to Licon could have happened to anyone and the only reason Licon was charged is because he's a police officer. 

On Tuesday, June 20, 2017, police and paramedics responded to 3334 Zion, apartment Q9, after the 11-month-old infant, Azrael Ezekiel Licon, was found without signs of life.

Police said the investigation revealed the father, Licon, was giving the child a bath in an upstairs bathroom. The complaint affidavit obtained by ABC-7 states Licon was arguing with his ex-wife, Crystal Montenegro, via text messages. The document states Licon argued with his wife on the phone for 45 minutes. Police said the overflowing bathtub flooded the apartment to the extent the water was penetrating through the ceiling into the first floor, the document further states.

Thursday, Licon put his head down when his defense attorney showed the jury a photo of Licon's dead son. The attorney said the State has failed to prove Licon "consciously disregarded" his son because, once he remembered the boy was in the bathtub, Licon immediately took action. 

"There's a difference between a crime and an accident and this was a tragic accident," Hughes said, "I'm asking you to tell the government they got it wrong. Raymond Licon is already in prison. He will live in that self-made prison for the rest of his life."

Testifying in his own defense Wednesday, Licon told the jury he left the baby in the bathtub when he heard a loud noise downstairs. He went down to check and realized his daughter Luna had knocked down the baby gate. He said he was arguing with his wife when he realized he had left the baby upstairs in the bathtub with the water running. 

Licon Jr. immediately performed CPR and called 911 for help. In court Wednesday, Licon Jr. said he would never forgive himself for the death of his son.  "I'd switch places with him if I could. He was a gorgeous little boy. He had his whole life ahead of him. He was the best part of me and the best part of my life."

During closing arguments Thursday, prosecutors argued Licon should be held accountable because he admitted fault. They brought up the 911 calls in which he admits to the operator he was the one to blame. A prosecutor said the call proves Licon was reckless. "He didn't forget him. He walked away. He confessed to reckless conduct," the prosecutor argued, "He told you it was his fault. Your job now is to find him guilty."

Wednesday, Dr. David Diamond, who specializes in behavioral neuroscience, testified for the defense. Diamond told the jury stress and distraction causes you to have a loss of awareness. The doctor said that because of Licon's fight with his wife and the distraction of running downstairs to check on his daughter, that Licon "unintentionally, and unknowingly lost awareness of his son in the bathtub."

Tuesday, Dr. Janis Diaz, a medical examiner for the County of El Paso, told jurors she performed the boy's autopsy and determined the manner of death to be an accident. Diaz stated she did not consider the drowning to be a homicide, because Licon did not "intentionally" do anything that led the child to die. Diaz testified that because there wasn't even an "indirect" intention that caused the drowning, she classified it as an accident.

ABC-7 reporters Adrian Ochoa and Christina Aguayo contributed to this article. 

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