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Family tells judge that 'murderer' should be in jail

By Izaskun E. Larrañeta

Publication: theday.com

Published May 16. 2013 12:00PM   Updated May 17. 2013 11:04AM

Colleen Reid doesn't want people to tell her that the man who took the life of her 13-month-old granddaughter was a good guy or that he made a mistake.

"That mistake was deadly, and it cost the life of my only grandchild," said Reid, who is the paternal grandmother of Madison Alexa Reid.

Reid and a contingent of relatives were in Norwich Superior Court Thursday, donning hot-pink T-shirts with the words "Madison Matters" on them, for the arraignment of Michael Rios, who is accused of killing the little girl.

Madison's maternal grandparents, Lawrence and Kate Berkman, along with the child's mother, Elizabeth Reid, were also in court.

Lawrence Berkman did not mince words and called Rios a "murderer." Berkman said he was particularly outraged that Rios, who posted a $100,000 bond, is not incarcerated.

He expressed those feeling to Judge Kevin McMahon during the arraignment.

Berkman told the court that he was not seeking retribution, but rather, justice.

"He was seen driving around," Berkman said. "I will not be able to drive my granddaughter."

He said Madison's injuries were horrific and beyond explanation.

He asked McMahon to increase Rios' bond or place him under house arrest. He also asked that neither Rios nor his family have any contact with his family.

McMahon said he would not touch the bond because it was set by the Part A court, where the more serious crimes are heard, and the case was going to be transferred there.

"This is a sad case," McMahon said. "It doesn't get any worse than this. I'd ask you to bear with the system because it's going to take a while."

Rios' attorney, Christopher Morano, said his client has expressed to him his sorrow and that he feels the Reids' pain very deeply.

Morano filed a motion to preserve evidence so that it could be examined. He reminded the court that there is a presumption of innocence, and he intends to utilize the evidence to "search for the truth."

Elizabeth, Madison's mother, cried uncontrollably during the court proceeding and was comforted by her mother.

After the court proceeding, Elizabeth said she couldn't bear to look at Rios.

"Nothing is going to bring back my daughter," Elizabeth said. "I want to know the truth. I want to know what really happened."

Madison was the only grandchild on both sides of the family.

Colleen Reid said her son, Josh, was too upset and could not attend the court hearing.

"She always had a smile on her face," she said. "I can't help but think about her final hours and how scared she must have been. We want justice for her. She needs to be remembered."

According to a warrant prepared by Norwich Detective Damon R. Wallace, he received a phone call on May 2 from an investigator for the Department of Children and Families about an anonymous complaint from a nurse at The William W. Backus Hospital, who said Madison was unresponsive and had bleeding on the brain.

Rios had taken the child to Backus and told personnel that she had fallen off a bed. There were no visible injuries. Life Star helicopter flew the child to the Connecticut Children's Medical Center, the warrant said.

During the surgery, doctors at the medical center discovered a subdural hematoma, which cause her brain to swell. She died during the early morning hours on May 3. An autopsy uncovered that not only had the girl sustained a subdural hematoma but that she had a hematoma on her spinal cord, cuts in her inner lips and hemorrhaging in both optic nerves.

Rios, who said he had been dating Elizabeth Reid, was taking care of Madison on May 2 and gave police various versions of how the child was injured that day. In one version, he said Madison had fallen off the bed. In another, he said the girl became dizzy and fell into the sink while he combed her hair.

When Wallace told Rios that a medical center doctor had said his story was not consistent with the victim's injuries, "Rios sank down in his seat and covered his face with his hand," the warrant states.

"Rios stated that after the victim fell from the bed, he picked her up and 'shook her very hard' to get her to respond. ... Her breathing changed, more like a hiccup," the warrant reads.

After signing his statement to police, Rios said, "I know it's wrong to shake a baby."

Rios' next court date is scheduled for June 3.

i.larraneta@theday.com

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