A 5-month-old Silver Spring boy who died of alleged child abuse suffered brain and spine injuries “consistent with having been vigorously shaken,” a prosecutor said in court Tuesday as the child’s father made his first appearance since his arrest.
“The offense in this case is horrific,” Assistant State’s Attorney Dermot Garrett said.
The father — Roger Lee Miller Jr., 20 — was ordered held without bond. He had been charged Monday with first-degree child abuse resulting in death and first-degree child abuse resulting in severe physical injury.
Miller didn’t speak about the case in court. His attorney, public defender John Lavigne, said Miller “denies that he caused any of these injuries.” Miller’s mother was in court, but she declined to comment afterward.
The morning of Oct. 28, just after 8 a.m., Miller called 911 to report that his son, Darrell Lee Barnes, was gasping for air and had become unresponsive, court records show. Paramedics took the child to Holy Cross Hospital, where a CT scan showed he had suffered a subdural hematoma, according to police. Darrell was taken to Children’s Hospital in the District, where he was placed on a ventilator.
The boy’s mother told detectives that she had last seen her son before leaving for work at 6:20 a.m. on Oct. 28.
“At that time the baby was healthy,” Garrett said. “These injuries occurred during the time the victim was alone with the defendant.”
When questioned by detectives, court filings show, Miller said that after he fed Darrell a bottle of formula, the boy began projectile vomiting and gasping. The filings show Miller said he picked the boy up to burp him and noticed blood coming from his nose, called 911, and with the help of a 911 operator, administered CPR as medics were en route.
Two days later, at Children’s Hospital, Darrell was pronounced dead. An autopsy showed his injuries were “non-accidental,” according to detectives.
Investigators reviewed reports from Children’s and said that they indicated the child suffered from cerebral hemorrhaging, brain swelling and spinal-cord swelling. The child suffered injuries “consistent with vigorous, repetitive shaking,” detectives wrote.
In court Tuesday, Garrett, the prosecutor, said investigators have talked to Miller several times.
“The defendant has given numerous statements that have been inconsistent, including recently trying to blame the (child’s) mother for the injuries,” Garrett said.
Lavigne said Miller had gone to high school locally but left to pursue work. He had held jobs at a moving company and a grocery store. Lavigne said that according to Miller’s mother, he is “a good child, a wonderful person” who is a good brother to his younger siblings.