Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Dad with joint custody, history of domestic violence arrested for murder of 7-month-old daughter (Chandler, Arizona)

We need to get over the idea that babies "need" shared custody or regular contact with their fathers. What they need is consistent, loving care. Which this poor 7-month-old baby girl obviously didn't get when she was in the sole care of her father, SERGIO THOMAS. Daddy admits that he "handled her roughly" (i.e. hit her in the back of the head with "about 80% of his strength") because he was "frustrated" with the baby's crying. Daddy admits he has an "anger problem" too. And we also see that Daddy has a history of domestic violence.

Sure, sure. Yada, yada. Certainly there are some gentle souls who are men who make good infant caregivers. But I don't think the number is huge. And these are usually not young men with histories of domestic violence, "anger problems," low "frustration" levels, and a lot of upper body strength at their disposal. And yet in order to appear "gender neutral," dads like Thomas get custody all the time. Either through the courts or by parental "agreement." (And these days, "agreement" really means nothing, because if Mom hadn't "agreed" she could have been facing expensive legal battles with an even worse custody outcome.) The fact that Mom DIDN'T bother going to court in Arizona should tell you loads of what she may have felt her chances really were.

February 16, 2011

Chandler father arrested in death of 7-month-old daughter

by Stephanie Russo - Dec. 14, 2010 02:55 PM
The Arizona Republic

Police arrested a Chandler father whose 7-month-old daughter died from skull fractures and bleeding in her brain Tuesday.

Officers and fire crews responded to a call about an unresponsive infant at a home near Alma School and Fry roads about 8 a.m. Monday, Chandler police Detective Frank Mendoza said.

When police and fire crews arrived at the scene, they found the injured child and fire crews administered CPR.

The girl then was transported to Chandler Regional Hospital, Mendoza said. The hospital determined the girl was suffering from skull fractures and bleeding in her brain and she was airlifted to Phoenix Children's Hospital in critical condition.

Mendoza said the child was in the care of her father, Sergio Thomas, 21, when the call was made. Detectives and medical authorities questioned the girl's father and mother Monday at Phoenix Children's Hospital to determine what caused their daughter's injuries, records state. A forensic pediatrician determined the girl suffered abusive head trauma.

Thomas and his wife are separated and have another child, a 2-year-old son. Mendoza said they had a verbal custody agreement and shared the children on a weekly basis, each with set days of the week. Thomas told police he had been the sole caretaker of the children since Friday, which neighbors confirmed.

Court records provide this account of what happened: Thomas initially said he put his daughter in bed about 9 p.m. Sunday and she fell asleep about 11 p.m. She woke up crying around 3 a.m., and Thomas had to change her diaper and feed her a bottle to calm her. He placed her back into her crib, a collapsible playpen, and went back to his own room. Thomas told police that when he woke up about 8 a.m., he found his daughter unresponsive in her crib and performed CPR until emergency personnel took over. Thomas initially did not offer an explanation for her injuries.

Police arrested him at the hospital. During further questioning, Thomas changed his story and admitted he was frustrated with his daughter for waking up in the middle of the night and handled her roughly because of it. He told police he has an anger problem and admitted to hurting her because he was frustrated she had not been sleeping.

Thomas said the little girl woke up at 11 p.m. and that he yanked her out of the crib by her arm. He took her to his bedroom and she fell asleep in his arms. She woke again at 3 a.m. As Thomas pulled his arm out from under her, he told police she bounced on the bed and hit her head on the wall.

Thomas changed her diaper and gave her a bottle, but she continued to cry. He grabbed her by the arm to take her back to her room and shook her, telling her to stop crying.

Thomas told police he was still frustrated and began hitting her on the back of the head with an open hand with "about 80 percent of his strength." He then slapped her face repeatedly and left her in her room crying as he went back to sleep, the court records state.

"I made a mistake that killed my daughter," Thomas told police during questioning.

Thomas is expected to face charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. He had been arrested in August on suspicion of domestic violence.

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