Ian Arnold, age 22 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has been arrested for aggravated child abuse after allegedly striking and shaking a one year old baby boy to death. Arnold supposedly admitted to pulling the child away from a computer causing hand shaped bruises on both sides of the boy’s body and injuries to the boy’s brain.
According to police, Arnold called 911 and reported that the “child was breathing funny and his eyes were not moving.”
To make matters worse for Arnold, he is also facing a violation of probation. As it turns out, Arnold was on felony probation at the time of this incident for a prior charge of Aggravated Assault.
For these offenses, Arnold is facing a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison on the Aggravated Child Abuse and 5 years in prison for the violation of probation, less any time already served.
However, this may change if prosecutors decide to charge Arnold with murder. According to the Sun-Sentinel, the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office is conducting an autopsy which prosecutors will review when making this determination.
Insofar as a legal defense is concerned, it sounds like this case has a lot of aggravating factors. However, the main piece of evidence that ties this case together are Arnold’s statements to police.
Defense lawyers will need to determine how these statements were taken. Were they taken during custodial interrogation? Did Arnold waive his right to remain silent or his right to a lawyer?
Lawyers will also have to investigate the boy’s health. Before these charges can be sustained, a link between Arnold’s abusive actions must be made to the boy’s demise. While most people may assume one has to do with the other because that is what common sense dictates, the truth of the matter is that we do not know anything about this boy, Arnold, or the entire course of events that transpired in their home.
What if another party is responsible for some of the boy’s injuries? What if the boy had sustained a significant head injury within days leading up to his death?
If so, would Arnold’s actions have killed a normal, healthy baby?
Let me be clear about something, I am NOT defending child abuse, AT ALL. However, when it comes to criminal justice, we have to make sure that all the steps follow correctly and that the evidence truly does support the charges filed.
Investigators and defense attorneys cannot assume conclusions. Hard work is needed to verify that each and every clue in this case truly does point to the alleged conclusion and no other reasonable hypothesis.
Cases like these carry very heavy consequences and require extraordinary work by the legal defense team. If I were Arnold’s lawyer, my investigation would begin with the health of the baby and the mechanics of what happened in that house leading up to the boy’s death.