Most scams, such as sub-prime mortgages and email scams, victimize adults. But custody scams victimize children. When government fails to protect children it throws open the doors to private contractors—lawyers and clinicians—who enrich themselves at the expense of children. (More about this child and the mother who tried to protect her appears below.)
Friday, February 12, 2010
Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:55 pm (PST)
By Jason Geary
Published: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 12:42 p.m.
BARTOW A Winter Haven man accused of beating his 4-month-old daughter because he wanted a boy instead of a girl was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison for the child's death.
Marcos Gomez-Romero, 30, pleaded no contest to aggravated manslaughter. A charge of child abuse was dropped as part of a plea deal.
Originally, a grand jury indicted Gomez-Romero on Jan. 10, 2008, on charges of first-degree murder and child abuse. Prosecutors had been seeking the death penalty.
But the cause of death for the child was further explored as the case proceeded to trial.
“It became clear that, while the attitude of the father of the child was horrible, there were problems related to determining the actual cause of the child's death,” said Chip Thullbery, a spokesman with the State Attorney's Office.
The plea agreement was a difficult decision to make, he said.
During Wednesday's hearing, Gomez-Romero's lawyer, Austin Maslanik, described the child's death as a terrible tragedy.
He said his client loved both his daughter and his son.
Ariana Rodriguez Romero died on Christmas Day in 2007.
Rescue workers went to the girl's home on 3145 Ave. Q N.W. after being called about the baby being unresponsive. The girl was taken to Winter Haven Hospital and pronounced dead at 9:59 a.m.
An emergency room doctor told detectives that the girl's trachea was full of baby formula, which was consistent with the girl choking on the food, according to investigative reports.
However, an autopsy later found the baby suffered from numerous injuries, including multiple new and old rib fractures.
In addition, the baby had a bruised liver, a hematoma and laceration on her spleen, a hemorrhage in her left eye, a bruise on her shoulder blade, a hemorrhage to a back muscle, and bruising on each side of the mouth near the lower jaw.
Gomez-Romero told a detective that he had been bottle-feeding the girl when she began to choke from eating too fast and stopped breathing, reports state.
He suggested some of the girls' injuries could have been caused as he tried to revive her.
The child's mother, Juana Rodriguez, told detectives that Gomez-Romero hated the girl and was violent toward the baby, but he would threaten to leave with their 2-year-old son if she called the police.
Rodriguez told the detective that Gomez-Romero “loves and worships” their son and was never abusive toward him.
Under further questioning, Gomez-Romero told the detective that he would spank the girl on the buttocks, and grab and squeeze her torso, and would carry her by her hands and arms allowing her to hang, reports state.
“He would become so bothered and angry if Ariana slept too long that he would slap her on the rib cage to wake her,” the report states.
Gomez-Romero told the detective that he wanted a boy instead of a girl, and in anger would call her ugly and a prostitute as well as say that he did not love her, reports state.
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About the mother and child pictured at the top
She is one of countless children in Rhode Island subjected to severe emotional and physical trauma by Family Court when it helps abusive parents to maintain control over their families after divorce. When she turned 18 in 2007, she gave the Parenting Project permission to publish her picture on behalf of all children who have been held hostage by Rhode Island custody scams.
About the Author and the Cause