Friday, February 27, 2015

Dad gets 10 years for killing infant son (Chesterfield County, Virginia)

Dad is identified as BRADLEY W. SIMMONS.

Chesterfield father sentenced to 10 years in shaken baby death of son

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 6:15 pm

By MARK BOWES Richmond Times-Dispatch

A Chesterfield County father will spend 10 years behind bars for shaking his son so violently that it caused neurological devastation and eventually the boy’s death, 10 days after being hospitalized.

Judge Steven C. McCallum of Chesterfield Circuit Court imposed the maximum punishment allowed by law in sentencing Bradley W. Simmons, 23, to 10 years in prison for voluntary manslaughter in the March 23, 2013, death of Jayden W. Simmons. The judge also fined Simmons $2,500.

Jayden was 5 weeks old when authorities said Simmons shook his child with such force that it triggered cerebral and retinal hemorrhaging and a leg fracture. The child was taken to VCU Medical Center for treatment, but he died after being removed from life support after 10 days.

Chesterfield prosecutor Erin Barr said Simmons gave investigators several conflicting stories about how his son came to be injured.

He told investigators the boy had fallen off a bed after being left briefly unattended; that a bottle struck him after being knocked off a shelf into the crib; that he accidentally struck the infant in the head with a video-game controller while playing a game with the boy in his lap; and that he bumped the infant carrier on a post while they were walking.

“Ultimately after a number of interviews, he came out and admitted that he did shake him,” Barr said. “But he said that he shook him because he was unresponsive and was trying to get him to wake up.”

Had the case gone to trial, competing experts would have testified as to what the medical evidence showed, Barr said.

“Our theory was that the type of shaking that would cause these injuries was a violent shaking, and it doesn’t make any sense that someone would shake a child that violently to try to wake him up,” the prosecutor said.

Simmons, who originally was charged with second-degree murder, pleaded no contest to the reduced charge of voluntary manslaughter last August. #Both the prosecution and defense had subpoenaed physicians to testify at Monday’s sentencing hearing, but both sides agreed to stipulate each doctor’s testimony.

Simmons’ fiancee was also inside the family’s home in the 15200 block of Timsberry Circle when Jayden was injured, but she was elsewhere in the apartment at the time, Barr said. Simmons “was alone with the child.”

After the fiancee became aware of her baby’s condition, she and Simmons drove their child to the hospital but ended up stopping along the way at a nearby Chesterfield fire station. A paramedic crew transported the infant to VCU Medical Center.

Jayden was Simmons’ second child and his fiancee’s first. Simmons has a daughter from an earlier relationship, Barr said.