Cleveland man convicted of several charges in connection with death of four-year-old boy

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — A Cleveland man has been convicted of several charges in connection with the death of 4-year-old Eliazar Ruiz. (Watch a past report on this case in the above video.)

According to court officials, a jury on Friday found Romaine Tolbert guilty of involuntary manslaughter, gross abuse of corpse, tampering, child endangering, and kidnapping. 

He was found not guilty on a murder charge. 

He is expected to be sentenced soon. He could face more than 20 years on prison. 

Romaine Tolbert (Photo courtesy: Crime Stoppers of Cuyahoga County)

Tolbert’s wife and co-defendant, Joanne Vega, pleaded guilty on Oct. 16 to several charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

Landscapers found the remains of Eliazar Ruiz at a house on Longmead Avenue near West 130th Street in Cleveland on Sept. 20, 2017. The skeleton was covered in bags in the backyard.

For months, the boy’s identity was unknown. He wasn’t identified until his mother saw a sketch on FOX 8 that was drawn by Dr. Linda Spurlock, a forensic facial reconstruction artist and an assistant professor of anthropology at Kent State University.

That’s when police learned the mother went to prison in 2017 and left Eliazar with Vega, his godmother. DNA confirmed his identity.

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