Shaken Baby Case
Suffolk Jury Acquits Man Of Two Counts Of Murder
Jury Gets Shaken Baby Case
After five hours of argument and two weeks of testimony, both sides in the murder trial of Edward the defendant could agree on two things – that he shook his infant daughter hard enough to kill her, and that his state of mind at the time determines whether he’s guilty.
The defendant, 27, testified last week that he shook the baby, 7 months, in a panic when she stopped breathing shortly after she fell off a table and hit her head in their South Huntington home.
“When you panic and you shake a child, they’re vulnerable,” defense attorney William Petrillo of Mineola said in his closing argument yesterday. “Some are going to lose their lives. That doesn’t mean it was done with a criminal frame of mind.”
But Assistant District Attorney Caren Manzello scorned the idea that the baby was shaken to death in an attempt to revive her.
Manzello said her head injuries were severe. She said veins were torn inside her head and her retinas were separated.
To produce those injuries, Manzello said the baby’s head would have had to snap all the way forward, with her chin on her chest, and all the way back, several times with extreme force.
Judge Charles Cacciabaudo told the jury to begin deliberating The defendant’ fate today in Riverhead. If he is convicted of second-degree murder, he faces a maximum sentence of 25-years-to-life in prison.
Manzello said The defendant’ guilt is apparent by his actions after the shaking and his shifting explanations to police and doctors for what he did.
But Petrillo dismissed variations among The defendant’s stories as evidence that he was in shock as his daughter died. The physical evidence backs up his story, he said, holding a hospital photograph of the baby that showed a bruise on her head.
This picture strengthens his credibility and contradicts their entire theory,” Petrillo said. “Once you see this child did fall this day, its over. That’s it. End of story. It corroborates his word.”
Afterward, Petrillo said The defendant didn’t mention the shaking to doctors at the Hospital in Manhasset simply because he thought her problems were associated with her fall.
But Manzello said The defendant’ story couldn’t be true. Because the baby was mobile, she was probably bumping her head — the source of the bruise — and getting into trouble at home, Manzello said. Meanwhile, Manzello said The defendant ignored the baby while he worked on his home based computer graphics business.
“This was not an easy day in this house,” Manzello said. “She was cranky, crying, keeping him from his work. She was not going down for her nap when she should.”
So he shook her into silence and then told no one what he had done — not the girl’s mother; not the pediatrician he finally called; not emergency room doctors at North Shore, Manzello said.
His story that he shook the baby when she stopped breathing after she fell falls apart upon scrutiny, Manzello said. If he panicked when the baby was unresponsive after a head injury, Manzello said it doesn’t make sense that he wouldn’t be alarmed by her sleeping for hours and remaining groggy afterward.
Manzello asked the jury to imagine the baby’s last moments.
“We don’t see the pleading in her face,” she said. “We don’t see the anger in his face. We don’t see the terror of her last moments . . . Consider both what he did to her, and what he did not do for her.”
Regardless of the jury’s verdict, Petrillo said the defendant will live with the result forever.
“He will suffer an emotional life sentence,” he said. “Your decision will have an enormous impact on him. I’m not asking for mercy. I’m asking for justice.”