Trial begins for Cleveland man accused of killing a 4-year-old boy

Trial begins for Cleveland man accused of killing a 4-year-old boy

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Jury selection for a man accused of murdering a four-year-old boy is scheduled to begin Monday in front of Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge William McGinty.

Romaine Tolbert, 38, is charged in the murder of Eliazar Ruiz, his girlfriend’s godson.

His girlfriend, Joanne Vega, 33, pleaded guilty Friday to several charges; including, involuntary manslaughter, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse.

Cuyahoga County prosecutors said Vega will testify against Tolbert and be sentenced at a later date.

Ruiz’s remains were found in a trash bag behind a vacant home in the 12000 block of Longmead Ave. on Cleveland’s West Side in September 2017.

The remains of Eliazar Ruiz, 4, were found in a plastic bag behind a vacant home on Cleveland's West Side in September 2017.
The remains of Eliazar Ruiz, 4, were found in a plastic bag behind a vacant home on Cleveland's West Side in September 2017.

It took investigators until January 2018 to positively identify the little boy.

After being indicted in January of 2019 on charges of murder, permitting child abuse, felonious assault, endangering children, involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of a corpse, tampering with evidence and kidnapping, Vega and Tolbert failed to show up for their arraignment.

A warrant was issued for their arrest and the couple was arrested by the U.S. Marshals on March 29, 2019 in Michigan.

Cuyahoga County Prosecutors said Ruiz’s mother dropped off her son with the couple in March of 2015 before going to prison.

Ruiz was last seen by family members in July of 2016 and reported missing in June of 2017.

Vega and Tolbert are being held without bond.

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