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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

"You are Evil" says judge, sentences man to life

Photo of Judge with a gavel
Wikimedia Commons

“You are the lowest form of human life that I have been able to observe and see. You are a monster, and quite frankly, you are evil. What you did was sickening and disgusting. You should never be allowed out of prison.”

Judge Mark Trusock of the 17th District Court issued these harsh words to 25-year-old Elis Nelson Ortiz-Nieves of Gaines Township as he handed him a life sentence for the murder of 4-year-old Giovanni Mejias. 

Last June, 4-year-old Giovanni Mejias was under Ortiz-Nieves’ care when he died of internal bleeding caused by blunt-force trauma. Examiners found cigarette burns on the boy’s body as well as evidence of previous abuse.

“With regards to the felony murder, it is the sentence of this court that you be committed to the Michigan Department of Corrections to serve the rest of your life without possibility of parole in the prison system. You will die in prison system.”

Ortiz-Nieves, originally claimed that he found the boy unresponsive and with a bloated stomach and hit him to relieve the pressure in the boy’s abdomen. Ortiz Nieves has told media that he intends to appeal. 

Courtroom audio provided with permission by El Vocero Hispano


Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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