Family defends man accused of child’s murder ahead of trial

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GAINES TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- Next week, Elis Nelson Ortiz is heading to trial for the murder of his girlfriend's 4-year-old son.  This comes after the boy, Giovanni Meijias, was found unresponsive at a home in Gaines Township back in June.

On Monday, Meijias' mother told FOX 17 that the whole thing was a horrible accident.

"I lost my child, and Nelson is innocent," said Sonja Hernandez, Giovanni's mother.  "And he shouldn't be locked away from his children."

Ortiz's family is also standing behind him, declaring he is not guilty of what police are accusing him of.

"When he talks to me on the phone, he says 'sis, you know me better than anybody else. You know that I would not do this,'" said Delisha Ortiz, Elis' twin sister.

Ortiz was arrested in June after officials say Giovanni died from injuries to his abdomen.  According to court documents, Ortiz told police he was trying to relieve the child's stomach bloating.

"Rub his tummy, hit his tummy because Nelson said he saw it getting inflamed," Elis' mother Nancy Nieves said. "Nelson said he thought [Giovanni] needed to vomit."

The Kent County Medical Examiner ruled Mejias' death a homicide, and said the boy had other older injuries on him in various stages of healing.  Ortiz was later charged with open murder.

During his arraignment, Ortiz told a Wyoming district judge that he loved Giovanni like he was his own son and that he's not guilty.

"There's no way that my brother woke up and just snapped and killed one kid out of seven that were there," said Delisha Ortiz.

Ortiz's trial begins Dec. 4.

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