Friday, November 05, 1999

Father accused of shaking 8-week-old son to death

Prosecutors to seek homicide charges

The Cincinnati Enquirer

C. Heery
        Prosecutors said Thursday they will seek homicide charges against 28-year-old Christopher Heery of Forest Park, accused of shaking and squeezing the life out of his 8-week-old son.

        The infant, Ian Heery, suffered 14 broken bones and other injuries being cataloged by the Hamilton County Coroner's Office. He was hospitalized in critical condition Saturday and died four days later.

        Mr. Heery was arrested three hours after Ian's death and arraigned on a preliminary charge of felonious assault. He was being held Thursday at the Hamilton County jail on $250,000 cash bond.

        “Any time it's a child (injured or killed), it affects you. But when it's an 8-week-old, it affects you more,” said Hamilton County Prosecutor Mike Allen. “The injuries were serious and severe.”

        Mr. Heery and his wife, Allison, who live in an apartment in the 11000 block of Passage Way, brought their unconscious son to Suburban Pediatrics on Northland Road on Saturday morning. Doctors there called an emergency squad, and Ian was taken to Children's Hospital Medical Center, where he was admitted to the intensive-care unit.

        Court records state Mr. Heery caused injury to his son “by squeez ing and shaking him until he passed out.”

        Mrs. Heery was not involved in causing the boy's injuries, prosecutors said.

        Because Ian was so young, it is unlikely that social services agencies would have had any previous contacts with the family or been aware of a potentially abusive situation, Mr. Allen said. Mr. Heery had no criminal record.

        Shaken baby syndrome, in which an infant is throttled until brain damage occurs, is often an act of sudden rage in response to relentless crying.

        “Typically this is done by somebody who has lost control or is in a moment of rage and violently, with all their might, shakes a baby,” said Dr. Robert Shapiro, a physician and director of the child-abuse team at Children's Hospital Medical Center.

        Most shaken babies die; those who survive can suffer mental retardation, cerebral palsy, paralysis, blindness, seizures and a variety of learning disorders.

        “The likelihood (is not) that a parent is going to injure their child by bouncing their baby up and down during play, during loving interac tions or soothing kinds of activities. That's not going to cause shaken baby syndrome,” Dr. Shapiro said. '

        As many as six children are brought to Children's Hospital each day for evaluation and assessment of possible abuse. The average age of those found to have been physically abused is 5.

        “Unfortunately, we're seeing more and more” child abuse cases, Mr. Allen said.

        A grand jury is scheduled to hear the case against Mr. Heery on Nov. 12.


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