Shaken babies


Equally disturbing were stories about parents accused of abusing their infants to the point where the children needed hospitalization. In a span of seven days in November, a Nashua hospital treated two infants for multiple bone fractures. Police say the babies were abused by fathers frustrated with the fundamental steps of parenting. As the community recoiled at the extent of the infants’ injuries, prosecutors presented the underpinnings of their charges: The fathers used cruel measures to silence their babies’ cries and then cited ignorance when confronted. These cases represent the extreme of abuse. And while severe mistreatment occurs infrequently, child abuse and neglect of any sort are nonetheless a reality. In one case, Jose T. Meza, 25, of Manchester, was charged with three counts of first-degree assault for abusing his 3-month-old daughter. Each charge is a Class A felony, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years. Along with him, the baby’s mother, 17-year-old Latoya Jackson of Nashua, was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and hindering apprehension of Meza. The pair are accused of driving the baby to a hospital in Mexico to have the baby treated while avoiding criminal charges. X-rays showed the baby had 17 broken bones in various stages of healing, according to police. In a similar case, a Wilton man was charged with severely injuring his 4-month-old son. Derek Whistler, 39, injured his prematurely born son on several occasions: while dressing him, placing him in a car seat and when the child had an upset stomach, police charged in court records. The baby suffered eight fractured ribs and broken bones in one arm and both legs, but they were not life-threatening injuries. Whistler faces three felony counts of first-degree assault. While those cases haven’t been resolved, a similar, but more severe, case was. On April 12, baby-shaker Barry Linde was convicted of killing his 2-month-old son, Christopher. The incident wasn’t the first for Linde. He was previously convicted of abusing another son, leaving him permanently disabled. While in prison for a parole violation, Linde confessed to a cellmate that he shook Christopher’s car seat in 2003 after the boy started crying. Linde told the cellmate that he could tell Christopher was “messed up,” according to the prosecutor. He later brought the boy to Southern New Hampshire Medical Center. Christopher died at Children’s Hospital Boston. Linde is serving 30 years to life in prison.
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