A Florida father was convicted this week of abusing and murdering his young son, who doctors said suffered severe brain and internal injuries, WESH-TV reports.
On Thursday, jurors in Volusia County found 33-year-old Emmanuelle Vazquez guilty of first-degree felony murder and aggravated child abuse, according to a press release from the State Attorney’s Office for the Seventh Judicial Circuit.
Jurors reached the verdict quickly, deliberating for about an hour, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.
Prosecutors brought charges after emergency crews on November 14, 2018, were called to a home in Deltona where they found the nearly 3-month-old child, named Julius, had stopped breathing.
The boy was rushed to a hospital and died the following day from what authorities said were “multiple traumatic injuries, which included brain injuries and lacerations to internal organs,” the press release states.
Vazquez initially denied knowing how the boy was injured, allegedly telling first responders, “I’m a father and I couldn’t do this to my child,” according to WKMG-TV.
However, Vazquez later acknowledged to dropping the infant head-first onto the ground just seven days before he turned 3 months old. Experts were allegedly able to identify when the fatal injuries likely occurred, which was a time when the boy and his father were alone.
Vazquez testified during the trial and said he had attempted to calm his son by playing with him on a swing, but after a short time, the boy went limp. Vazquez alleged that he poured water on the boy to revive him, but dropped him during that process, according to the News-Journal.
Prosecutors alleged that the boy had suffered previous injuries prior to being dropped, and state child welfare authorities had reportedly investigated the family in the past.
“It is difficult and depressing to imagine what 3-month-old Julius went through at the hands of his father,” State Attorney R.J. Larizza said in the press release.
“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.”
Vazquez was sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years immediately following the verdict.
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[Featured image: Julius Vazquez/Volusia County Sheriff’s Office]