2011-05-27 / Top Stories

Baby Shaker Pleads Guilty To Manslaughter

By Howard Schwach

A Far Rockaway man who admitted to violently shaking his crying infant son and causing his death has pleaded guilty to manslaughter and felony assault charges.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown identified the defendant as Saul Cortez, 25, of 87-10 Rockaway Beach Boulevard in the Arverne section. Cortez pleaded guilty on Monday, May 23, to second-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault before Queens Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Butcher, who indicated that he would sentence the defendant to a determinate term of 18 years in prison when sentenced on June 6.

Brown said, “Shaken Baby Syndrome is the leading cause of child abuse deaths each year. Its victims are innocent and helpless children, often injured by those charged to protect them. These smallest victims are often impaired for life or killed. Caregivers of children who cry should heed the important message that these cases unfortunately bring to our attention – normal babies cry. There are many solutions to deal with a crying baby – shaking is not one of them. Never, under any circumstances, should a person shake a baby. In this case, no matter what sentence the court imposes, the defendant will have to live for the rest of his life with the guilt and knowledge that he alone was responsible for the death of his child.”

Brown added that, in pleading guilty, Cortez admitted that he was home alone with his eight-month-old son, Mario Patrice, and his two-year-old daughter, on the night of April 5, 2010, and that he became frustrated and angry because the baby was crying and repeatedly shook the baby and forcefully and repeatedly punched him in the back. When his wife returned home, Cortez was on the phone calling for help and the baby was unresponsive, limp and not breathing. The eight-month-old baby was subsequently admitted to Schneider Children’s Hospital (now Cohen Children’s Medical Center) and diagnosed with Shaken Baby Syndrome when tests revealed subdural bleeding, brain injury, retinal hemorrhages, laceration to the liver and healing and acute rib fractures.

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