Trial begins for Joseph Zysk, charged with murder in beating death of girlfriend’s 3-year-old son

Joseph Zysk. Credit: PPD
Joseph Zysk. Credit: PPD

The father of a 3-year-old child killed by its mother’s boyfriend, Joseph Zysk, who is on trial facing third degree murder charges, testified in court Tuesday about the last time he saw his son alive.

Jason Larkin, 28, of Northeast Philadelphia, the father of Jason Larkin, Jr., described his son as “an easy-going little boy” who “never liked to be alone, ever.”

Larkin recalled that when he took a shower, his son would knock on the door of the bathroom because the child did not want to be alone, he testified.

Larkin testified that he would care for his son Monday to Fridays, and leave the child with its mother, his ex-girlfriend Daniela Gonzalez, on weekends.

He said that on Friday, Jan. 14, 2011, around 9 a.m., the last time he saw his son alive, he dropped the boy off with Gonzalez. He testified that he dressed the boy that morning and that he had no injuries or bruises at that time.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 15, Joseph Zysk struck 40-pound, 3-foot-tall Jason in the side multiple times. The blows reportedly punctured Jason’s liver and caused internal bleeding which killed the child.

Defense attorney Evan Hughes is not contesting that Zysk delivered the killing blow. However, he urged the jury during his opening statement on Tuesday to convict his client of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, not third-degree murder.

“That’s not a monster right there,” Hughes said, pointing at Zysk. “That’s a good man who unfortunately made a horrible, horrible mistake.”

Prosecutor Jack O’Neill pointed out that Zysk admitted to police that he killed Jason.

“He admitted to what he did,” O’Neill said during his opening. “Whatever it was that was making him so frustrated and angry, he took it out on that little kid.”

Gonzalez and Zysk reportedly both were using heroin at the time of the child’s death.

A paramedic, Mark Williams, also testified that he responded to the scene and carried the baby across the street to Roxborough Memorial Hospital, while administering CPR.

Williams testified Tuesday that Jason’s abdomen was “swollen,” describing it as “rigid, hard to the touch.”

Hughes asked on cross-examination if CPR could have caused the bruising seen in photographic evidence on the baby’s chest.

“He was already dead at that point, he wouldn’t bruise,” Williams said.

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