The Washington Post

Man sentenced in death of his infant son in DC

A D.C. Superior Court judge sentenced a Baltimore man to 36 months in prison on Friday in connection with the 2009 death of the man’s seven-week-old son.

Prosecutors originally had charged Hiawatha A. Henry, 19, with first-degree murder in the death of his son, Hiawatha Jackson. Hiawatha Jackson died of severe bruises to the brain while his father was babysitting.

Henry was watching his son and another infant at the children’s mother’s house on Aug. 30, 2009, in the 1800 block of Bryant St. NE. Henry told police that he sat on a futon to feed Hiawatha, but the futon was broken and both he and the baby fell. Hiawatha hit his head on the metal leg of the furniture, Henry told police after his arrest.

Later that evening, Henry’s aunt called paramedics and rushed the baby to the hospital. Henry never told doctors about the fall. Instead, he said the infant began vomiting while he was feeding him. Doctors later released the infant to return home with his father.

During the course of the night, the baby continued crying and was taken back to the hospital the next day. This time, doctors discovered the infant was bleeding from inside his brain. Hiawatha fell into a coma and later died from his injuries.

According to a medical examiner’s report, Hiawatha died of abusive head injuries with a brain contusion.

In July, Henry pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter. “If he had been honest and not omitted to medical personnel about the head injury, the infant’s chances of survival would have been different,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Cynthia Wright at sentencing. “He allowed his infant son to suffer overnight, allowing the infant to cry and cough without seeking further medical care.

Wright said Henry, who was playing video games at the time his son was injured, suffered from “low impulse control” and was easily frustrated.

The judge ruled Henry must undergo educational and vocational training, anger management and intensive psychological treatment while in prison and while under five years of probation.

In sentencing Henry, Judge Gerald I . Fisher called the involuntary manslaughter case “fairly troubling” and pointed out that the victim was “an innocent child.”

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.


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