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Suspect accused of killing infant has a troubling past

Posted at 7:00 PM, Mar 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 12:48:16-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee County Sherriff's Office says the man accused of killing an infant in Lehigh Acres is no stranger to the law. Rolando Olivarez is charged with one count of second-degree murder. He was arrested Sunday for allegedly killing a one-year-old last September. The medical examiner ruled an injury to the child's head as the cause of death. According to law enforcement records, Olivarez has been in and out of jail for the last ten years.

Since 2010 Olivarez has been arrested for battery, burglary, and several probation violations. Records at the Lee County Clerk of Court show that the battery charge was connected to a domestic violence call, for which Olivarez was placed on probation. While Olivarez previous arrests are not linked to the death of the 1-year-old child, Meg Dalabes with Abuse Counseling and Treatment Inc. says his past arrests a show a pattern of violence.

“If someone has a previous record of perpetrating domestic violence, that is a red flag, because those behaviors unfortunately don’t disappear overnight,” she said.

Former police chief Walt Zalisko agrees. He says prosecutors could use the previous arrests to build arguments in court, but details matter. “They have to look at the facts of those previous cases,” he said. “What kind of battery was it? Did he beat a child? Did he beat his wife? Did he beat someone in a bar fight?”

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said investigators have ruled out any mishaps in the infant’s death. “The injuries that the infant sustained were suspicious, and non-accidental,” he said.

Dalabes says child abuse investigators are trained to know the difference between accidents and intentional harm. “Based on the placement and the coloring of the injury. All these different things to be able to best identify - is this something that could’ve been an accident or is this something that was done intentionally with a lot of force,” she said.

Unfortunately, this is only one of a few hundred incidents like this that will get reported this year. About 450 child homicides get reported to the Florida Department of Children and Families every year. That number dipped below 400 in 2019 and rose to 445 in 2020. Less than five percent of the children counted in that data have seen a DCF worker before it’s too late. If you know of a child being abused, you are urged to call 911.