The trial of a man accused of murdering his girlfriend's toddler son in 2011 began this week in Rockdale County Superior Court Judge David Irwin’s courtroom.
James Rivera Sims, 24, is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery and cruelty to children in the first degree. He was arrested April 2011 after Cayden Allen, who was 2-years-old at the time, was reported as unconscious and struggling to breathe on April 8, 2011 and died three days later at Egleston Children’s Hospital.
Sims, the boyfriend of Allen’s mother, told Conyers police the baby had fallen and hit the back of his head while Sims was watching him and the mother was at work. Medical personnel reported the child had died of blows to the head and found other injuries to his body. The child had only lived with his mother and Sims at Arbor Creek Apartments on Main Street for 11 days before his death. His mother had recently gained custody of the child, who had previously been living with his grandparents in Kentucky.
The first day of the trial was filled with testimony from law enforcement officials who responded following the 911 call. An interview of Sims conducted by Conyers Police Lieutenant Jack Dunn the day of the incident was played for jurors and showed Sims explaining the child had fallen backwards and hit his head on a rubber mat lying on top of carpet. Sims said the child had wet his pants and asked to go to the bathroom before he fell backwards. However, three different emergency responders said that the child had a very visible, large knot on the front of his head, leading them to question Sims' account of what happened.
"The truth here is very important," Lt. Dunn is seen telling Sims in the interview conducted the night of the incident. "I don't want you to try to tiptoe in what you are telling me. I want to make sure you are being straight up the whole time. Did you intentionally hurt that little boy?" He also tells Sims the child has bruises on his arms and his injuries resemble those of a baby who has been shaken.
In response Sims said, "I have never snatched him up. Sometimes I don't even want to touch him. It's just an awkward situation being around him because I'm not his dad. I would never try to hurt him and I know the difference." Sims continues by telling Lt. Dunn that he was physically abused by several family members when he was a child and said "I would never do to him what was done to me." Sims also denied that an accident had occurred that day to cause the child to become unconscious.
The trial will resume at 9am Wednesday with testimony from doctors who treated Cayden for the blunt force trauma to his head.