An Elmhurst father pleaded guilty last month to felony assault charges, admitting he shook his 2-month-old daughter so violently that he inflicted permanent brain damage on the infant, who remains on life support.
Israel Garcia, 28, agreed to the plea on November 19 in Queens Supreme Court, where he admitted to violently shaking the baby when she began crying at their home on 41st Avenue in Elmhurst on May 28, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.
Garcia initially told investigators he tried to revive the baby after she stopped breathing and her body went limp. When he was unsuccessful, he called 911 and the baby was taken to New York University Hospital with severe brain injuries and broken ribs.
Garcia told investigators he also shook the baby in early May – and believed he may have broken her ribs at that time, but did not tell anyone, law enforcement sources said.
Maria Gordillo, Garcia’s biological daughter, suffered permanent life-threatening injuries when she was shaken, including bleeding in the brain and left eye, multiple rib fractures and multiple bruises on her left foot and back, Brown said.
Doctors determined the injuries were consistent with non-accidental inflicted abusive head trauma linked to shaken baby syndrome, a criminal complaint states.
“Shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of child abuse deaths each year,” Brown declared. “Its victims are innocent and helpless children, often injured by those charged to protect them.”
Garcia told the court he was “tired and frustrated from work” when he arrived home on May 28 and heard his daughter crying. He admitted to forcefully grabbing and squeezing the infant around the torso – and repeatedly shaking her “up and down” for about three minutes, until she stopped crying and appeared to be asleep.
Garcia said he saw the baby’s head moving back and forth before she stopped breathing and her body “went limp,” Brown said.
Queens Supreme Court Justice Elisa Koenderman indicated she would sentence Garcia to a determinate 14-years in prison at his sentencing, scheduled for December 10.
As a condition of the plea agreement, Garcia has also agreed to assist in the production of an educational video on shaken baby syndrome, Brown said.