Johnny Byrkett on trial in infant's death

Girlfriend's son suffers severe head trauma

By Paul Venema - Reporter

Just six months after Sarah Combs, her four children, and her boyfriend, Johnny Byrkett, moved to San Antonio from Indiana, her youngest son, 1-year-old Cruz Ethan Combs, died.

Byrkett, 29, is now on trial in the death, facing injury to a child/serious bodily injury charges.

He told police that he and the child were taking a nap on the floor of a Windcrest apartment he shared with the boy's mother, who was at work.

He said he woke up and found the child not breathing and unresponsive.

The baby was rushed to the hospital, where he died four days later from internal head trauma, according to prosecutors.

"Those injuries are consistent with violent and significant trauma against the head of the baby," Assistant District Attorney Chris DiMartino told the jury during opening arguments Wednesday.

He said that the injuries were consistent with the child's head being struck by -- or against -- a blunt object, or with the child being shaken violently.

During his opening statement, Byrkett's attorney, Oscar Cantu, noted that the child had a history of medical problems.

"When the baby was admitted to the hospital, no one saw any signs of violence," Cantu said. "No signs of contusions, lacerations or bruising."

Testimony will continue on Thursday in Judge Melisa Skinner's 290th District Court.

If he is convicted, Byrkett is facing a maximum punishment of life in prison.

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