Thursday, May 15, 2014

Dad charged with 1st-degree-murder in death of 3-month-old son (Reboboth Beach, Delaware)

Another "caretaking" father who couldn't hack normal infant crying, so he killed the baby.

Dad is identified as SIDNEY G. DAVIS III.

Father arrested in 3-month-old's death

Staff Report 9:48 a.m. EDT May 15, 2014

Frustrated that his 3-month-old son would not stop crying, a Rehoboth Beach man said he shook the baby violently Saturday morning until the infant stopped. Then, the 21-year-old father took a shower in the hotel room where the family was staying, police said Tuesday in court records.

When he checked on the boy later, the baby was not breathing and unconscious, prompting him to call 911, state police said.

Zhaden Davis, one of a set of twins, was rushed to Beebe Healthcare's hospital in Lewes and then to Nemours/A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, where he was treated for a traumatic brain bleed, three rib fractures on the left side of his body, massive retinal bleeding and a subdural hematoma of his brain, court records state.

About 10 hours later, doctors declared the infant brain dead, according to court records. The baby remained on a ventilator and died Sunday, Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said.

The father, Sidney G. Davis III, was charged with first-degree murder by neglect or abuse Tuesday after family members brought him to state police for questioning. Davis is being held in Sussex Correctional Institution after failing to post $100,000 cash bail.

The second twin boy was not injured and is being cared for by his mother, Fournier said.

The incident unfolded at about 11:30 a.m. Saturday when Davis called 911 about his son's condition and paramedics arrived at the Sea Esta IV Motel at 20902 Coastal Highway to find the baby not breathing.

Medics performed CPR

Randy Miller, manager of the Sea Esta III, was at Sea Esta IV. It was a quiet morning, she said, when, suddenly, about five police cars pulled into the hotel, followed by an ambulance.

The responders went to the third floor, she said. She followed them but did not enter the room. From the doorway, she could see medics performing CPR on Zhaden. The father, Sidney Davis, looked upset, she said.

Officers took the other baby out of the room, and Miller brought that child downstairs to the office. Then officers took that baby back, bringing him to the hospital in the same vehicle as his father, while Zhaden went in an ambulance, she said.

Doctors at Beebe were able to re-establish a heartbeat. An examination determined the infant suffered a traumatic brain bleed, which had led to his unconsciousness. He was then flown to A.I. DuPont in critical condition, Master Cpl. Fournier said.

An autopsy was performed by Dr. Adrienne Sekula-Perlman at the Medical Examiner's Office, who ruled the death to be homicide due to head trauma.

Calls to the hotel

When interviewed Tuesday by homicide detectives, Davis acknowledged he had been caring for the twins since 10 a.m. Friday while their mother, who neighbors and hotel employees identified as Rebecca Lee, visited her grandmother, court records state.

A hotel employee who did not want to be named said Lee called the hotel multiple times Friday asking to be put through to check on the babies, who had been sick, she said.

"She told me they were having problems," she said.

The employee never saw Davis or the twins, but said Lee was friendly and well-mannered.

Davis acknowledged during the police interview Zhaden initially started crying at about 6 p.m. Friday and he shook the baby to quiet him.

Lee returned briefly at about 10:30 a.m. Saturday and spent about 15 minutes with the twins before leaving for work.

Lee told detectives the twins were apparently fine, according to court records.

Saturday morning, after Lee left for work, the baby began crying again and Davis became frustrated because he would not stop, he told police.

'The baby was not breathing'

Davis told police he picked the boy up and "shook him violently until he stopped crying," police said. He then "went and took a shower, and when he checked on him he discovered the baby was not breathing and called 911."

A friend of Davis' aunt, Eugene Haines, said it was unlike him to act violently. Haines lives in Burton Village, a short distance from the hotel, and was shocked when he heard about the incident.

"It's a hell of a thing to live with," he said. "I'm just surprised, I never knew him to hurt a child or anything."

Davis would spend time in Burton Village visiting his aunt when he was a teen and would sometimes spend the night at Haines' house. Davis hadn't been around in a while, he said.

Lee and Davis were placed in Sea Esta IV by social services, according to Brandon Morris, general manager of Sea Esta III and IV.

"Normally, it's local residents who have a need of housing," Morris said.

State officials were not able to give out any information about the couple.

Three weeks ago, the Lewes-Rehoboth Association of Churches' Community Resource Center opened up a "baby pantry," receptionist Eleanor Whaley said. Lee visited frequently to get items for the twins, and the boys quickly became favorites.

"They were kind of the mascots of the baby pantry," she said. "When we knew the babies were coming, we made a special effort to make sure they were taken care of."

She said of Zhaden: "So, sadly missed now, so sadly missed already."

Key points

• Sidney G. Davis III, 21, of Rehoboth Beach is charged in the death of his 3-month-old son, Zhaden Davis.

• According to the Delaware State Police, Davis shook the infant twice while taking care of him.

• The cause of death was found to be homicide due to head trauma.