FORT WORTH -- As Alfonso Contreras Jr. carried his 2-month-old daughter, Elena, he slipped and fell in the family's mobile home in Haltom City last summer.
A few days later, Elena's 1-year-old stepsister accidentally dropped a spice rack on her head.
And in the last week of August, Elena was sick with a cold.
That was the explanation Contreras gave to a Child Protective Services investigator as to why Elena was in a coma at Cook Children's Medical Center on Aug. 23, according to testimony Tuesday on the first day of Contreras' capital murder trial.
"He spoke quietly. He just kept his head down," CPS investigator La'Morra Cornelius said.
Elena had at least six skull fractures, her liver was crushed, her kidneys and spleen were shattered, and she had a severe brain injury with swelling and bleeding. Doctors didn't know exactly how she sustained the injuries, but one trauma surgeon believed that Elena was stomped or held by her ankles and hit against a wall, according to CPS documents and affidavits.
Elena died a few hours after arriving at the hospital.
Contreras, 21, is charged with capital murder. Prosecutors Bill Vassar and Dawn Ferguson are not seeking the death penalty. If convicted, Contreras would face an automatic life sentence.
Elena's mother, Ashley Nicole Massey, faces a charge of injury to a child by omission. Her trial is pending.
Contreras showed little emotion Tuesday morning, conferring just briefly with his attorneys William "Bill" Ray and Francisco Hernandez Jr.
His father and his 17-year-old sister, Giovanni Contreras, sat in the courtroom.
Giovanni Contreras testified Tuesday that her brother loved Elena and was sometimes "overprotective" of her.
"If she had a small scratch, he wanted to know immediately what had happened to her," Giovanni Contreras told the Tarrant County jury.
But witness after witness told the jury of seven men and five women Tuesday that Contreras couldn't tell them why his baby daughter wasn't breathing on the morning of Aug. 23.
"He told me that she had had a cold the week before," said Haltom City patrol officer Michael Ray, one of the first officers on the scene. "He was just kind of out of it."
The family had lived at a mobile home park in the 6000 block of East Belknap Street in Haltom City. Contreras cared for Elena when Massey was at work, according to the documents.
About 12:50 a.m. on Aug. 23, Massey noticed that Elena was not breathing. The couple started CPR, and Massey called 911. Medical staff alerted authorities that the child's injuries were suspicious.
The family has no history with CPS, according to CPS documents.
Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763