Three times, Miranda Hughes had to prepare for the death of her infant son.
Although just days earlier Averik Dominguez had received a perfect bill of health at his four-month-old checkup in August, Ms. Hughes found herself in a hospital watching as her son battled life-threatening injuries, she said in Lucas County Common Pleas Court Wednesday.
She then learned that her then live-in boyfriend and Averik’s father, Jonathan Dominguez, was responsible.
Dominguez, 24, of Toledo, was sentenced to four years in prison for causing severe injuries to his infant son resulting in significant disabilities. Judge Gene Zmuda noted that any prison term imposed in court would be significantly less than the sentence given to young Averik at his father’s hands.
“Because of your actions, he will never be the boy that he would have become had you not committed the acts you committed,” the judge said. “…You will always be Averik’s biological father but you are no longer his dad. … You can’t be, you almost killed him.”
Dominguez pleaded no contest and was found guilty Nov. 28 to one count of child endangering. At his plea hearing, Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Pituch said that the injuries were the result of Dominguez being tired and his young son’s crying.
On Aug. 13, Dominguez squeezed the child with enough strength to leave bruises on his back and fracture three ribs, Mr. Pituch said. The next day, he shook Averik with such force that it caused bleeding on the brain.
When interviewed by police, Dominguez admitted both instances of abuse.
Ms. Hughes spoke in court about the injuries her son sustained. She said that at three different times, she prepared herself for her son’s death – when he first underwent surgery, when she was forced to decide whether to keep him on life support, and the day the baby’s ventilator was removed.
“Having to sit there holding your child and expecting him to die is something I would never wish on anyone,” she said.
Ms. Hughes said that her son has defied expectations and survived but still continues to struggle. Now almost 9 months old, Averik undergoes physical and developmental therapy and it is unknown the lasting impact of his injuries. She said he has impaired vision and impaired hearing as well as being developmentally delayed.
“The future of my son is a very big question,” Ms. Hughes said. “… After his injury, it was like Averik got sent back to being a newborn and had start all over again.”
Ms. Hughes, who was surrounded by several members of her family, declined to comment after the sentencing.
Dominguez apologized for his actions and said that he hoped one day his son and his son’s mother would forgive him. Calling it “the biggest mistake I will ever make,” Dominguez said he took responsibility for his actions.
“At the end of the day he is my son,” he said. “I love him with all my heart.”
Attorney John McMahon said that Dominguez was a young, first-time parent who did not have the necessary tools. Mr. McMahon said his client did not have the intent to cause his son injury and that he takes pride in the fact that his son is “a fighter” who is recovering.
“He loves his son, he cares for his son and at the same time he has to deal with the fact that he injured his son,” Mr. McMahon said adding that this knowledge is a “tremendous burden.”
Judge Zmuda said that it was not love but selfishness that Dominguez showed on the day he used violence to quiet a crying baby.
“You may have loved him with all your heart but you needed to love him with your head and you didn’t do that,” the judge said. “The life sentence will be knowing that your son will never be the son he could have been.”
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