Bonita woman faces aggravated Child Abuse charges after baby in her care is
LEE COUNTY, FL – A 5-month-old baby boy has severe brain damage, and a Bonita Springs woman is facing aggravated child abuse charges after the infant she was watching for a friend stopped breathing, and a medical exam found he had suffered extensive internal injuries.
Maria Antonio-Jose, 24, was arrested Saturday and remains in Lee County Jail on $200,000 bond. Her arraignment will be July 9.
The Florida Department of Children and Families has opened a child protection investigation into the incident.
“We have not had prior involvement with the child or the alleged perpetrator,” said Natalie Harrell, spokeswoman for Suncoast Region of DCF. “At this time, as the investigation is ongoing, the information we can share is limited.”
A Lee County Sheriff’s Office report said the baby was left with Antonio-Jose on May 15 while the mother, a friend, went to work. At noon Antonio-Jose called the mother and told her the baby had stopped breathing due to choking on milk.
The sheriff’s report said Antonio-Jose’s husband also said she called him at work and said the baby had choked on milk and wasn’t breathing.
The infant was first taken to North Collier Hospital and then transported to Golisano Children’s Hospital in south Fort Myers. He was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury, extensive retinal hemorrhaging, ripped right retina, considered to be in a persistent vegetative state and was not expected to recover.
Examination of the child also found that the injury was not consistent with choking but rather with severe child abuse.
A sheriff’s report said the child protection team at Golisano described the brain injury as the result of a rapid acceleration/deceleration injury which, according to medical dictionaries, can be caused by blows or vehicle crashes and results from the abrupt movement and deformation of the brain in the cranial cavity.
Treatment was withdrawn Friday and the infant was transferred to hospice care.