TAMPA — David Vasquez Malave murdered 2-year-old Kaydan Guerrero, a jury decided Thursday.
After a four-day trial, the panel of nine men and three women deliberated about three hours before finding Vasquez Malave guilty of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and child abuse in Guerrero’s death.
The defendant gazed down at a defense table, clutching a pen as the jury’s decision was announced, but showed no reaction. Behind him, members of the boy’s family gasped.
He’d called 911 one morning in July 2020 to report that the boy was unresponsive. When deputies arrived at the Windermere apartment complex in Brandon, they found Vasquez Malave trying to revive the child near a Hyundai Elantra. He claimed the boy had fallen out the back door during a diaper change, striking his head on the ground.
But his story would later evolve. Investigators identified the boy’s blood on the car’s rear floorboard and driver’s side door panel. Doctors said the boy’s injuries, which included bleeding on his brain, and cuts and bruises to his body, were not accidental.
In trial, prosecutors detailed a complex and fractured family dynamic. Guerrero’s mother, Deyaneira Lopez-Otero, had two sons from different fathers. In the spring of 2020, she was homeless, living out of hotels, friends’ homes and in a shelter. She’d gone to school with Vasquez Malave.
One week in July 2020, she left her younger son in Vasquez Malave’s care overnights because the shelter would not let her bring her child. She testified at trial that she began to notice unexplained injuries a few days before her son’s death.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Samantha Ward set a sentencing date for next Thursday.
Vasquez Malave, 25, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.