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Opening day of testimony in third trial of Josue Fraga

MARSHALL -- The third trial of Josue Robles Fraga got underway Monday morning following a week of jury selection. Fraga is charged with five felony counts of murder in the 2008 death of his 2-year-old niece, Samantha Fraga.

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Fraga

MARSHALL - The third trial of Josue Robles Fraga got underway Monday morning following a week of jury selection. Fraga is charged with five felony counts of murder in the 2008 death of his 2-year-old niece, Samantha Fraga.

The first witness to take the stand was Assistant Ramsey County Medical Examiner Dr. Victor Froloff. Froloff performed the autopsy on Samantha and ruled her cause of death a result of a traumatic brain injury. In addition to contusions on her forehead and a subdural hematoma, Samantha had also sustained a prolapsed rectum, a ruptured stomach and abrasions and damage to both her genital and perianal areas.
Froloff told the jury the injuries sustained to Samantha were caused by an unknown object, but he was sure the death was definitely a homicide.
“It isn’t accidental,” Froloff testified. “There’s no way.”
Froloff declared Samantha’s time of death to likely have occurred four to eight hours prior to approximately 5:30 a.m., when Fraga and his then-wife Maricela had taken the toddler to the hospital to seek medical treatment. Froloff said his best guess would be that Samantha had died around midnight based on all of the evidence he examined and gathered during the autopsy.
Testimony from certified EMT Wayne Landhuis shed light on the condition Samantha was in when she arrived at the hospital. Landhuis said he saw the Fragas bring Samantha into the emergency room stating the child had “just stopped breathing.”
Landhuis performed CPR on Samantha, who was unresponsive when she arrived. Landhuis said the child was cold and her eyes already fixed and dilated. After resuscitation efforts failed, Samantha was declared deceased at 6:18 a.m. March 20, 2008.
The final testimony of the day came from Dr. John Odom, who had also performed CPR on Samantha and had reported her injuries to law enforcement. Odom’s testimony seemed to corroborate Froloff’s earlier assertion that Samantha’s death was not accidental, and not likely the result of information provided by Fraga when Samantha was brought to the emergency room. Odom said Fraga told him he believed the injuries had been sustained after Samantha’s 3-year-old brother had jumped on the girl’s stomach.
Odom testified that Fraga had told him he believed the boy had jumped from the top of the bunk bed the two shared with one of Fraga’s children onto Samantha, who was lying on the floor. However, Odom added that after further questioning, Fraga had been vague in how Samantha’s injuries occurred and had not personally witnessed the alleged incident perpetrated by Samantha’s brother. Odom said the nature of her injuries did not seem consistent with the story Fraga allegedly gave him.
Froloff had testified similarly earlier in the day that the damage to Samantha’s stomach and abdomen was likely caused by compression as a result of being pressed against an object, rather than blunt force trauma like that of being jumped on.
The trial is scheduled to continue the rest of this week and the first week of February.

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