In Port St. Lucie, Eric Patrick Fletcher was arrested on manslaughter charges for the death of his infant daughter. His daughter passed away from her Shaken Baby Syndrome injuries on July 6, 2008. News stories report that Mr. Fletcher was caring for his infant daughter while the baby’s mother was at work. He called the emergency medical service to report that his baby stopped breathing. During the initial investigation, Mr. Fletcher first reported that he dropped his daughter. However, physicians caring for the infant recognized that the infant’s injuries were not consistent with Mr. Fletcher’s explanation. The infant was diagnoses with Shaken Baby Syndrome. The infant’s death was ruled a homicide. Mr. Fletcher admitted shaking the baby and denied knowing that shaking could kill an infant.
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a serious condition caused by shaking an infant or child. The rapid shaking of an infant or child causes the sudden forward, backward and sideway motion of the head. During the shaking motion the brain is injured from hitting against the inside of the bony skull, causing inflammation, bleeding, separation of vessels and nerve fibers in the soft brain tissue on all sides of the brain. The brain of an infant or child is very soft and it is easily injured as compared to an adult brain under the same force. Therefore, less energy is required to cause lethal injury to an infant or child’s brain. In SBS, the eyes may get injured by the sudden increase in pressure and motion. After the shaking, the brain and the eyes bleed. This bleeding causes high pressure to build within the head and eyes. The damage caused by shaking the head, brain and eye structures and the increasing high pressure that follows causes permanent injury or death for the infant or child. If death does not occur, the infant or child may be left with permanent brain damage, blindness, neuromuscular disability, paralysis, deafness, learning disabilities and/or a seizure disorder.