A 22-year-old student faces life behind bars after being charged with the murder of his 6-week-old son.
Police say EMSA responded Thursday morning to a 9-1-1 call regarding an unresponsive infant at an apartment on the campus of the University of Tulsa. When they arrived, 22-year-old TU student Sebastian Aguirre, Jr., told them that he was caring for his son while the baby's mother attended classes. While he was giving the child a bath, he said, the infant went limp, and his eyes rolled back in his head.
Noting signs of retinal hemorrhaging, police and medical staff continued to question Aguirre, who allegedly admitted to shaking the baby because he wanted him to stop crying.
The Tulsa World reports, "A probable cause affidavit says Aguirre realized during the final shake that the child was no longer responsive, and he put the infant in cold water in attempts to wake him."
The baby was transported to St. John Medical Center before being transferred to St. Francis Hospital. The next evening, he died after being taken off child support.
Aguirre was arrested Monday on a complaint of child abuse murder. He is held without bond in the Tulsa County Jail.
Child abuse murder is an act of first degree murder defined in 21 O.S. § 701.7 (C). This section of the first degree murder statute reads:
A person commits murder in the first degree when the death of a child results from the willful or malicious injuring, torturing, maiming or using of unreasonable force by said person or who shall willfully cause, procure or permit any of said acts to be done upon the child pursuant to Section 843.5 of this title. It is sufficient for the crime of murder in the first degree that the person either willfully tortured or used unreasonable force upon the child or maliciously injured or maimed the child.
In other words, the death of a child through abuse or unreasonable force is first degree murder, whether or not the person intended to cause the death of the child.
It is unlikely that Aguirre meant to kill his son. Often, a parent who shakes a baby does so out of frustration, not malice. However, shaking a baby will not pacify or calm a child, and could very likely cause significant traumatic brain injury, permanent disability, or even death.
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) or Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) is a very real threat to infants and children, and parents must be equipped with the knowledge, resources, and support to understand that shaking a child is not a minor way of gaining the child's attention, but an abusive act of violence which could result in death. Because there is no outward physical impact, it is difficult to understand that the act of shaking a child causes his or her brain to move and strike the skull with tremendous force.
For information and resources about SBS/AHT, visit the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome at www.dontshake.org.