In Marion County, Robert D. Morris, 23-year-old, faces murder, second-degree assault and criminal mistreatment of a child in relationship to the death of Gabriel Morris. Gabriel Morris was six months old when he died on October 31, 2008. He passed away at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. Salem police are conducting the investigation. News stories report that Mr. Morris admitted shaking the baby twice at the 4800 block of Herrin Road NE. He told investigators that the baby would not stop crying.
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is an injurious condition caused by the shaking of an infant or child. The action of rapidly shaking an infant or child causes the sudden forward, backward and sideway motion of the head. During the shaking action 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 because it has more water content and it is easier to injure than an adult brain. 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 around the soft tissues that make up the delicate structure of the eyes. After the shaking, the brain and the eyes bleed inside the confined spaces they are contained in. 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. According to the CDC, 1,490 children died from abuse and neglect in the Unites States for the year 2004. This number decreased in 2005 to 1,460 deaths. Greater than 75% of these deaths occurred in children under four years of age. A total of 872,000 children were reportedly abused in that same time frame. In 2005, child protective services investigated 3.6 million cases of reported child abuse complaints, which resulted in discovery of 899,000 cases of child abuse.