LAWRENCEVILLE — Aiden Calvo’s older brother, just 5 years old, told police that his mom’s boyfriend played a simple game. If the mood struck him, 25-year-old Adam Garber would assign each side of a coin to one of the young brothers and toss it in the air.
Whichever child lost would get beaten.
A probable cause hearing in front of a Gwinnett County magistrate judge Tuesday morning painted Garber and Elizabeth Calvo as having a history of violence against both of Calvo’s children. Gwinnett County police Det. Sheila McMillan testified that their disdain was addressed especially toward 2-year-old Aiden — whose murder the couple is now charged with.
“Aiden got all the injuries because Aiden couldn’t talk,” McMillan said, relaying what Calvo reportedly told a cellmate at the Gwinnett County jail.
Five-year-old Richard Calvo reportedly woke the couple up early on the morning of Dec. 16 after he realized his brother couldn’t be stirred. Blood covered the walls and sheets in their bedroom at Norcross’ Steeplechase Apartments, as if Aiden had “coughed up blood” everywhere, McMillan said.
Garber called 911 that morning, both he and Calvo, 21, claiming not to know anything about the toddler’s injuries.
But even before the 2-year-old succumbed to a brain bleed — believed to be caused by what’s known colloquially as shaken baby syndrome — Garber’s story changed. He reportedly turned on Calvo during police interviews, blaming the abuse on her.
Garber told police he had seen Calvo hitting Aiden with “something wrapped in a towel.” McMillan said detectives later found a bar of soap zip-tied in the bottom of a garbage bag inside the couple’s apartment, where they had lived for only about two days after moving down from New York.
The Internet history on Garber’s cellphone, though, brought his own demons to light.
In addition to Google searches like “my child won’t wake up” and “pupil size” with timestamps beginning on the evening of Dec. 15, Garber also had been researching different methods of human torture as far back as November, McMillan said.
One search simply said, “I can’t stop hitting my kid.”
Doctors and the Gwinnett County Medical Examiner’s Office believe Aiden was chronically abused, due especially to bruises across his body being in “various stages of healing.” Calvo, her long hair several shades of red, began crying Tuesday as McMillan rattled off the various injuries discovered.
They included: “several fingerprint bruises” on his back; a hand print on his buttocks; a bruised jaw; forehead bruising; a fractured skull; bleeding in his nose and stomach; bruising to his penis and scrotum; bite marks to his fingers; diaper rash with skin breakdown, “possibly from scalding”; and a subdural hematoma causing bleeding to his brain.
Blood was later found in several of Aiden’s used diapers.
McMillan said one woman has come forward, claiming she called Child Protective Services in New York in 2009 for an incident involving Calvo and Richard, Aiden’s now-5-year-old brother. Garber reportedly told police he had called also called CPS recently while he was living in Las Vegas with his father.
He said he “would hear thumps in the background” while on the phone with Calvo, McMillan said.
Calvo was granted full custody of her children in March after a battle with her estranged husband, their biological father. Gwinnett County police have since interviewed him.
“He said that (Calvo) never liked the kids or wanted the kids, she just took them to spite him,” McMillan said.
Calvo reportedly told detectives that Aiden “got the bruises when in the care of Adam.” Her mother and sister said that the toddler would “run away from Adam” when he saw him.
Murder and child cruelty charges against Calvo and Garber were bound over the superior court Tuesday. Both are being held without bond.