A man who grabbed his “fussy” 2-month-old son so hard that he bruised the baby and caused retinal hemorrhaging is going to prison for five years.
The young father also has given up parental rights to his child, prosecutors said.
Robert Lee Velez, now 23, has admitted he panicked when his baby became fussy when he injured the child three years ago, Assistant District Attorney Chris Daniel said Wednesday.
The boy’s mother had taken the child to Highland Community Hospital in Picayune on Feb. 19, 2015, because her child had suspicious injuries, Daniel said.
The boy had bruises on his face and appeared ill.
The hospital called the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department for a criminal investigation.
The baby was moved to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, where Dr. Jamie Jackson found the infant had hemorrhaging and bruises consistent with trauma that was not an accident, Daniel said.
That type of trauma can be caused by repetitive acceleration and deceleration of an infant, such as by shaking, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information.
The baby has recovered and suffered no lasting damage as a result of the abuse, Daniel said.
Velez, a first-time offender, pleaded guilty to felony child abuse on Tuesday in Hancock County Circuit Court.
Judge Christopher Schmidt imposed a 20-year prison term and suspended 15 years, leaving five years to serve in prison and 15 years on probation, Daniel said.