Once again, we have a dad--CASEY GROSS--who was "home alone" when his 2-month-old son suffered fatal head injuries. Either the baby died from a freak accident (e.g. "clumsy daddy syndrome") or the baby was brutally murdered. A jury will decide.
Fort Pierce man killed baby, prosecutors say as trial begins
Special to Treasure Coast Newspapers
Posted December 7, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.
FORT PIERCE — Jurors began hearing evidence Tuesday to determine whether 2-month-old Brogan Jeffrey Paul Gross died as a result of an accident or at the hands of his father, Casey Gross, as prosecutors allege.
Gross, 23, of Fort Pierce, is accused of second-degree murder and aggravated child abuse in connection with the child's death in 2008. If convicted, Gross faces a life prison term.
Authorities allege Gross was home alone with the infant on the afternoon and evening of Aug. 22, 2008, after the child's mother, Gina DeRosa, left for work. Shortly after DeRosa returned home late that night, Brogan, who was born 13 weeks prematurely, stopped breathing as Gross was feeding him.
The baby was pronounced dead in the early morning hours of Aug. 23.
Though paramedics thought they were responding to a choking incident, assistant state attorney Bernard Romero told jurors during opening statements Monday a subsequent autopsy indicated Brogan suffered severe head injuries.
"The injuries were massive," Romero told jurors.
Though acknowledging the circumstantial nature of the state's case, Romero told jurors the facts they would hear, including evidence of Gross' demeanor during and after paramedics' attempts to revive his son, would be sufficient to find him guilty.
Gross' demeanor, Romero told jurors, was not appropriate.
"He acted as if he didn't know anything wrong was going on. Just nothing. He was the only one with the child when this baby was injured," Romero told jurors. "And the injuries are not of the kind that would happen spontaneously. This was no accident."
However, assistant public defender Christina Ledina said Brogan's death was "an unfortunate tragedy."
Ledina told jurors evidence would show a heart monitor Brogan wore to monitor breathing and heart rate malfunctioned, allowing him to suffer major brain damage.
Ledina said jurors would hear evidence questioning the reactions of both parents.
"It shouldn't be about what the average mother or average father would do because neither acted like the average mother or father," Ledina said. "Don't let your emotions take over."
Jurors spent much of the day listening to first responders and emergency personnel describe Gross as emotionally detached from the evening's events. However, they also stated they had no previous knowledge of Gross' personality characteristics.
After Brogan was pronounced dead at the hospital, St. Lucie Sheriff's Deputy Supreet Cheema testified she heard Gross state, "It was all my fault."