CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Cranston man accused of shaking his 3-month-old son to death faced a judge Monday as the infant’s family began picking up the pieces.
The baby’s maternal grandfather identified him as Giovanni Dimas Romero, born in late March. He fought for his life for two days before dying in the hospital on Saturday.
Elias Romero, 24, was charged with murder in court and ordered to be held without bail. He broke down in tears as the judge mentioned his son’s death.
“He shook the baby, and it caused the injury,” said Capt. Karen Guilbeault of the Cranston Police Department.
Guilbeault said Romero was watching both of his sons, Giovanni and a toddler, while their mother was at work on Thursday. Police said after he shook the baby and realized he wasn’t responding, he called his wife at work. She was the one who dialed 911.
Police are now investigating what precipitated the alleged abuse. They say Romero is cooperating, and he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time.
“The apartment was extremely hot, and I would suspect that would have something to do with the child crying,” said Guilbeault. “However, the bottom line is the father – the caretaker of the child – should’ve just walked away and taken a deep breath.”
Two days after Giovanni was found unresponsive, he died at Hasbro Children’s Hospital. Doctors there told police the injuries indicated Abusive Head Trauma, more commonly known as Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Eyewitness News spoke with Giovanni’s maternal grandfather, Eddy Pena, at the family home where a number of relatives lived with the married couple and their two children.
“He wasn’t responsible,” Pena said in the emotional interview. “A father shouldn’t do that to his son.”
Pena called for justice to be served in court, and for Romero to serve as an example to other fathers of what not to do.
“He never called 911 like he’s supposed to do,” Pena said, referring to the fact that Romero called his wife, possibly wasting time before paramedics were notified.
When asked how his daughter was doing, Pena said she was “trying to survive.” The mother still has custody of her two-year-old son.
Pena said Romero had been a “problem” and was irresponsible with the children in the past. The Rhode Island Dept. of Children, Youth and Families told Eyewitness News they haven’t had previous contact with this family.
Capt. Guilbeault said detectives had a particularly difficult time with this investigation, as both police detectives on the case have young children of a similar age. She commended their professionalism.
Guilbeault also called this a “preventable death,” explaining the options for parents who may be frustrated by a crying baby.
“Put the child in a safe location and walk away,” she said. “Take a deep breath or call somebody to come assist. This tragic event was completely preventable, and if he had just reached out for help sooner, the child most likely would still be alive today.”
Guilbeault also pointed to parenting classes offered by DCYF.
Romero was ordered held without bail pending a bail hearing on July 25.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the funeral expenses.