A Detroit-area man was arrested after allegedly shaking a 1-year-old girl to death. The suspect was identified as 28-year-old Dennis Wayne Justus. Roseville, Michigan police noted that the incident took place on December 17 and it was 'non-accidental.' He was arrested on January 14 and arraigned on January 18.
The deceased girl's mother, Melissa Hartley, who works at a hospital told FOX 2 Detroit that Justus shook the toddler so hard that her corneas detached from her head and caused internal bleeding behind her eyes. "How can you shake a baby that hard? This wasn't an accident," she said.
Justus was Melissa's roommate and long-time family friend. She left her daughter with Justus on the morning of December 17 as she went to work. Half an hour into her shift at the hospital, Melissa received a call saying her daughter was unresponsive.
'I just want to know why he did this'
The toddler was rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment. She, however, succumbed to her injuries. Melissa said she trusted Justus and couldn't believe he had harmed her daughter.
"I just want to know why he did this. Like, what was it? I don't care how frustrated you get. That is not a reason to shake a baby," she said.
The founder of the Brain Injury Rights Group, Patrick Donohue spoke of the horrible incident and suspected that the vigorous shaking must have caused fatal injuries to the toddler. Brain injuries are 'one of the leading causes of death and disability for infants,' Donohue noted.
Justus has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, a felony for which he faces up to 15 years in jail. He is being held on a $300,000 bond.
Donohue stated that around 1,500 brain injury deaths among babies are reported every year. He added that the number may even be higher due to brain injuries that are not severe enough to be detected.