A Florida man was found guilty on Thursday of killing his not even 3-month-old boy in November 2018, authorities in Volusia County said.
Emmanuelle Vazquez, 33, was convicted of one count each of felony murder and aggravated child abuse over the death of Julius “J.J.” Vazquez, the State Attorney for Florida’s 7th Circuit said in a press release. A jury of seven women and five men decided the father’s fate.
On Nov. 14, 2018, the child stopped breathing.
A 911 call led first responders to the Vazquez residence in Delton, Florida, between Daytona Beach and Orlando. The state attorney’s press release said that the boy died the next day in a hospital from multiple traumatic injuries, including injuries to his brain and lacerations to his internal organs.
The elder Vazquez initially denied knowing how his son died, the state attorney’s office said. He later told law enforcement that he dropped the child head-first onto the ground.
According to the press release, Vazquez was arrested after medical experts narrowed the time of the fatal injuries to when the baby was alone with his father.
He was indicted in March 2020, according to Orlando-based CBS affiliate WKMG.
An autopsy revealed severe internal injuries to the head and upper torso, and J.J.’s death was ruled a homicide via blunt force, deputies said, the TV station reported.
“Is there some sense of satisfaction?” a sergeant asked at the press conference announcing the indictment. “Yes. But you have to understand that the satisfaction comes at the price of a small child who lost his life.”
State child protective services had investigated the Vazquez family in the past, police said, without elaborating.
“Medical science tells us that the number of fractures and the trauma that J.J. suffered don’t match up with the ‘I dropped the baby on its head,'” Volusia Sheriff Mike Chitwood said then.
The state attorney’s office said that Emmanuelle Vazquez was sentenced to life in prison immediately after the verdict.
“It is difficult and depressing to imagine what 3-month-old Julius went through at the hands of his father,” 7th Circuit State Attorney R.J. Larizz said after the verdict and sentencing. “He suffered fatal head injuries and a lacerated liver as he fought for his life after the vicious beating he endured. Not surprisingly, the evidence revealed that Julius suffered previous injuries that were in the process of healing. Remember Julius in your thoughts and prayers.”
When he was arrested, authorities said, the father was shocked and confused.
“I couldn’t do this to my child,” Emmanuelle Vazquez insisted, police said.
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