The Death of Innocence

The police say Krystal Voss shook her son hard enough to kill him. The evidence says something else.

"Did you ask why he had to go to the doctor?"

"Of course. She said that she thought his breathing was funny."

Ramirez says he insisted on seeing Kyran. Voss took him to a darkened room where he could dimly make out the boy lying down and hear his "deep, labored breathing." Voss pleaded with him to come up with a story about Kyran falling while he was baby- sitting: "She kept telling me that she loves me so much, and she knows that I will help her, [saying] 'I don't want to lose my baby.' She rambled on for a few minutes, things I didn't really understand."

John Johnston
All natural: Krystal Voss and Damien Gaston met at 
Wild Oats. Their son, Kyran, was born at home.
All natural: Krystal Voss and Damien Gaston met at Wild Oats. Their son, Kyran, was born at home.

Even though he already suspected "she had hurt this boy worse than she's telling me," Ramirez says he went along with the plan. After Voss left, he went to check on Kyran and found "he wasn't responding at all." He says he undressed him, saw numerous bruises and splashed water on him in the tub.

"He was limp in my hands," Ramirez says. "I should have rushed to 911, called the police and an ambulance. But I was so afraid that I would be blamed for it. That's when I called her...They got her on the phone, and I said, 'Krystal, what did you do? Get over here now! Oh, my God. Get over here now! What did you do?'... I knew I didn't do anything to that baby, but I thought for sure I would be in big trouble, because I was the only one there, Harry... I knew I was going to get the blame in my guts. I just got sick to my stomach. It took me three days to eat, Harry."

"So everything you told me before was a lie," Alejo says. "This is the truth."

"This is the truth, Harry."

"Anything else you need to tell me?"

Ramirez describes a conversation he had with Voss at Children's Hospital, during which she asked him what he was telling Alejo. He says she told him to meditate in order to beat the polygraph test and sent him to Wild Oats to buy a spray to put on Kyran's skin, something that would "make bruises go away."

Between Voss's statement and Ramirez's latest version of events, Alejo figures he has more than enough to wrap up his case. He arrests Voss at Children's Hospital shortly after midnight. According to his report, Gaston and Voss attempt to elude him by fleeing down some stairs, but the door to the stairwell is locked. That detail receives prominent play in the accounts of the arrest published in the Alamosa Valley Courier, as a demonstration of suspicious, if not guilty, behavior.

But Gaston and Voss say that's not the way it happened. Alejo met up with Gaston first, telling him, "The chase is over." When Gaston realized the investigator was going to arrest his wife, he ran upstairs to talk to her, while Alejo took the elevator. Voss was barefoot and in pajamas, staying in the women's sleeping area, and the couple insist they weren't trying to leave the hospital. They later went back and videotaped the stairwell in question to show that it has no locks.

"My only hope was to get a few minutes to talk to her before she was arrested," Gaston says, "so I could tell her, 'Don't say anything, don't give them anything else.'"

Many of the details in Alejo's reports aren't correct, they insist. He attributes comments to the couple -- based on interviews that weren't recorded and for which Alejo took few notes -- that they maintain they never said; for example, Gaston is quoted as saying that Voss had a "threesome" with Ramirez and his wife, but Gaston says he told Alejo that wasn't true. When they first met the investigator, Voss adds, he complained of being hard of hearing and wrote down their address incorrectly three times.

Alejo declined to comment. In conversations with Steve Gaston, he said he didn't bother to tape all of his interviews but was careful about taking notes. In a deposition in another case, he said it was his practice to shred his notes as soon as he prepares a typed report.

All of Alejo's interviews with Ramirez were taped, but that doesn't mean they aren't full of lies -- particularly the last one, Voss says. Kyran was conscious, unbruised and active when Ramirez arrived, she insists. It's absurd to think she would leave her son near death for hours, waiting for her ex-lover to show up and agree to be the fall guy. The phone call at work, observed by Cranson, was too brief to be filled with the histrionics Ramirez described ("What did you do? Get over here now! Oh, my God"), and Voss would have to be a consummate actress to respond the way she did. The spray she bought for Kyran was arnica montana, a homeopathic treatment for a wide array of injuries, not some magic potion to mask bruises.

As for advising Ramirez about the polygraph, she does remember him telling her that he was nervous about taking one. "What I said was, 'Come from a place of absolute truth within yourself, and you'll be okay,'" she says.

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