Jerrod Aspa says he "never meant to hurt" his 4-month-old son as he wrapped his hands around the baby's waist and shook him. But he did.
Aspa, who lives on the Colorado River Indian reservation with his four other children, was indicted yesterday in Phoenix by a federal grand jury on one count each of assault resulting in serious bodily injury and child abuse.
The child now is out of the hospital and is expected to survive. However, doctors say he'll never be able to have "purposeful movement."
Aspa, 21, told FBI agents how he was left alone with his two youngest children, a 15-month-old and the 4-month-old the morning of June 7.
Prosecutors say Aspa heard the 15-month-old crying in a bedroom down the hall. He found the child had soiled himself and went to put him in the bathtub.
Once in the bathroom, Aspa heard his other son crying. He walked to the bedroom and picked up the 4-month-old off the bed, initially cradling him in his arms. But the baby wouldn't stop crying.
Gripping his son, Aspa shook the child back and forth -- his head flailing -- six times. He then laid him back on the bed and walked away to tend to his other son.
About 10 minutes later, Aspa returned to the room and found the 4-month-old unresponsive and sporadically breathing.
Aspa later claimed that he ran around in circles, trying to revive the baby. He gave the child two puffs of an Albuterol inhaler, but nothing happened.
"I panicked," he told agents. "It wasn't working."
He then called his girlfriend, Natalie Yazzie, who called her mother, Cindy Leivas, to check on the baby.
Once Leivas got to the house, she took Aspa and the dying baby to Indian Health Services Hospital.
When they arrived at 9:25 a.m,. the 4-month-old was "a dusky grey color," according to court documents. He wasn't breathing, he was limp, and his pupils were fixed and dilated.
Doctors were able to stabilize the child enough to be transported by helicopter to Phoenix Children's Hospital.
In an initial lie to FBI agents during his first interview at the hospital, Aspa said he found his 4-month-old son lying, unresponsive, on his bed. He told the agents the baby fell off the living room couch earlier that day and claimed he never hurt his son.
But once arrested and faced with the the fact that doctors ruled his son's injuries could not have been caused by a fall off the couch, Aspa came clean.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
"I did shake him," Aspa confessed to FBI agents. "He started crying, he was screaming, I got mad and I lost my temper. I shook my son; I just wanted him to stop crying. I'm so sorry. I just want him to be all right."
After shaking his infant son into a permanent vegetative state , Aspa writes on his Facebook wall: "Praying for my son... Daddy loves you baby... and he knows youll pull through..... stay strong son."
Booked on June 7 and still in police custody, Aspa faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both, if convicted.