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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Nov. 7, 2014

A 27-year old man has recently been indicted by an Ocala grand jury on one count of first-degree felony murder and one count of aggravated child abuse. Florida police arrested the man on October 1 in connection with death of his ex-girlfriend’s 1-year-old son.

The death occurred while the man watched his then-girlfriend’s young son. The man called 911 after the child became unresponsive. Initially, the man told 911 that the child fell out of his crib. After the police arrived, however, the man changed his story and apparently told the Marion County Sheriff’s three different versions of what actually happened and how the child became injured. He said that the child fell to the ground and hit a metal protrusion from a lounge chair while he was walking with the child in his arms. The man then allegedly fell on top of the child and hit the child’s head with his right elbow.

Emergency personnel immediately airlifted the child to UF Health Shands Hospital for treatment, but eventually made the decision to take the child off life support. Based on the man’s initial recollection of the events, the police only charged and arrested the man on aggravated child abuse. After doctors further investigated the child’s injuries, it became apparent that the child didn’t die from falling from a crib or from the man’s arms.

Child’s Head Injuries Indicated Violent Shaking

The doctor told police that the child had “injuries that caused a collection of blood that was … pushing his brain against bone, which resulted in the dysfunction of the juvenile’s brain.” These are injuries inconsistent with a child falling from a crib or to the ground. Furthermore, the child’s retinal hemorrhages indicated possible violent shaking.

After receiving this information from the doctors, officials increased the man’s charges to include first-degree felony. Prosecutors are charging the man with first-degree murder based on the child’s murder occurring during the commission of a felony—aggravated child abuse. The man is being held without bail.

Florida’s Wrongful Death Act

Under Florida’s Wrongful Death Act, when the death of a person is caused by the negligence of any person, the person who caused the death is liable for damages. A wrongful death action can be initiated by the decedent’s personal representatives, which are often the parents in deaths involving children. The act permits the surviving representative to recover various damages in connection with the death, including medical expenses, loss of earnings, mental pain and suffering, and loss of support and services.

The purpose of the Act is “to shift the losses resulting when wrongful death occurs from the survivors of the decedent to the wrongdoer.”

Contact a St. Petersburg Wrongful Death Attorney

If you have lost a loved one as a result of someone else’s negligent or intentional conduct, you should contact a Florida wrongful death attorney who can help you understand your rights. The attorneys at Mike Walker Law have extensive experience prosecuting wrongful death actions to help family members obtain compensation they deserve.

Contact our Florida wrongful death attorneys today to find out what rights you have. We are prepared to help you in any way that we can.