Waggaman man arrested in death of girlfriend's 3-year-old

Waggaman man arrested in death of girlfriend's 3-year-old

WAGGAMAN, LA (WVUE) - A Waggaman man has been arrested following the death of a 3-year-old child.

Victor Becnel, 35, was arrested following an extensive investigation.

On March 18, officers were dispatched to the 600 block of Oleander Lane in Waggaman. Deputies received reports of a child not breathing at the residence.

The victim, 3-year-old Pierre Stewart, was transported to West Jefferson Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

"The child was unresponsive, taken to West Jeff, and was pronounced dead shortly after," said Jefferson Parish Sheriff's spokesman Col. John Fortunato.

An autopsy determined that the child died of injuries consistent with blunt force trauma. Deputies said the 3-year-old had a lacerated liver and numerous large contusions of the head.

Following the release of an autopsy, police launched an investigation. The child's biological mother, 22-year-old Nelly Pena, was living with Becnel. Deputies said the pair was not married, but they had been living together for several months.

Becnel and Pena had two children together - a 4-month old girl and an 8-year-old boy. Stewart was not Becnel's biological son, deputies said.

Days before the 3-year-old died, Pena tells police that the 3-year-old was vomiting and had a fever. On March 18, Pena brought Stewart to work with her because she thought he was feeling better. However, the child allegedly became sick again and Becnel was called to pick up the child.

Pena tells investigators that there was growing tension between the 3-year-old and Becnel. Pena said that Becnel has been too rough with the child and witnessed Becnel grab him and slam him down. She described Becnel as "hot headed" with an explosive temper, officials said.

She allegedly told deputies that the child never wanted to be around Becnel because he was always mean to him. Pena also told investigators that Becnel would physically abuse her as well.

Investigators questioned Becnel, who told authorities that the 3-year-old fell from the table. After realizing the child was not breathing, Becnel said he called 911.

When questioned further, deputies said the suspect refused to answer any additional questions and requested an attorney.

"When they talked to Becnel, he talked about the Icee, and the fall, but when they started talking about him about the injuries to the child, he started asking for an attorney," Fortunato said.

The investigation into Becnel also included an interview with the suspect's 8-year-old son. The 8-year-old told authorities that his father picked him up from school on the day Stewart died. Investigators said that the boy told deputies that he was alone. The 4-month-old and 3-year-old were left at home alone, deputies said.

Following the investigation, police issued a warrant for Becnel. Officers said the suspect has prior arrest in New Orleans for a simple burglary in 2000.

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