2010-04-16 / Front Page

Shaken Baby Dies, May Upgrade Charges To Murder

By Howard Schwach
An eight-month-old baby who was shaken by his father in a Rockaway Beach apartment on April 5 has died, sparking a possible move by the district attorney to upgrade the charges against the father from felony assault and endangering the welfare of a child to murder.

The 24-year-old father, identified in court records as Saul Cortez of 87-10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard, had been charged after his son, Mario Patrice, suffered life-threatening injuries, including bleeding on the brain.

Cortez admitted to investigators that he had punched his son in the back when the baby would not stop crying, court records show.

At the time of his arraignment, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said, “According to the charges, the infant suffered severe brain and eye injuries, a lacerated liver, and healing and acute rib fractures as a result of being violently shaken and punched – grave physical injuries for anyone, let alone a baby less than a year old. It is shocking to consider that his father is charged with inflicting such brutality and suffering on one as young and innocent as his own child.”

Court records show that according to the charges, just before midnight on April 5, eight-month-old Mario Patrice was admitted to Schneider Children’s Hospital and subsequently diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome when tests revealed subdural bleeding, brain injury, retinal hemorrhages, laceration to the liver, and healing and acute rib fractures.

It is further alleged that Monica Patrice, the baby’s mother, left their residence for approximately twenty minutes earlier that night, leaving Cortez alone with the eight-monthold and a second child, who was two years old.

When Patrice left, the baby was crying and in normal health. When she returned, Cortez was on the phone calling for help and the baby was unresponsive, limp and not breathing. It is additionally alleged that in statements made to police, Cortez said the baby was crying and he became frustrated and angry and repeatedly shook the baby and forcefully and repeatedly punched the baby in the back.

EMS workers responding to the call performed CPR on the baby, bringing the young boy back to life. They transported the baby to the Peninsula Hospital Center and from there he was taken to Schneider.

Sources told The Wave that the baby was taken off life support at the hospital at the direction of his family.

His organs were reportedly donated after his death.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for District Attorney Brown told The Wave that her office was contemplating upgrading the charges and that the investigation was ongoing.

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