NASHUA — A 10-week-old infant boy remained in serious condition following numerous assaults throughout the past two months, including violent shaking, intense squeezing and a massive strike to the head that caused brain hemorrhaging and multiple seizures.
The boyfriend of the child’s mother has been arrested and charged with 12 counts of first-degree assault and one count of second-degree assault. The baby boy is expected to survive, but could have lasting disabilities, police said.
Enrique Santiago Jr., 20, of Lawrence, Mass., is accused of the assaults on the baby, who is identified as B.T. in court documents. Santiago is not the baby’s father.
The baby’s mother, Maria Tata, 25, of 43 Arlington St., Apt. B, took the child to a Nashua hospital the day after Christmas after the boy had been in the care of Santiago earlier that day while she was at work.
On Thursday, Santiago was arraigned via video conference at the 9th Circuit Court, Nashua District Division.
“This is the first time this has happened,” Santiago told the judge. According to Santiago, Tata is separated, and he has been helping her out with the rent. He said it would be difficult for him to help out the child’s mother while he is in jail on $1 million cash bail.
According to a police affidavit filed at the courthouse, the infant is in serious condition at Massachusetts General Hospital with many fractures and a head injury.
Police began investigating on Dec. 26 after a local hospital contacted authorities to report the baby’s injuries. Santiago is accused of striking the boy in the head with a pillowcase that contained an electronic tablet similar to an iPad the day after Christmas, resulting in bleeding in the brain.
Local police questioned Santiago at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, where the boy’s mother sought medical help for the child.
“Mr. Santiago initially denied any knowledge of how B.T. may have received the injury to his head,” according to an affidavit filed by Officer Aaron Belanger. Tata left for work about 9:30 a.m., leaving her son in the care of Santiago. The boy woke up around 11:30 a.m., at which time Santiago told police he prepared a bottle for the baby.
After feeding the baby, Santiago said he placed the baby on a pillow in the middle of the bed and left to get a drink of water. When he returned, Santiago said he removed one of his two pillows on the bed, but when he picked up the top pillow and swung it in a “pillow fighting” manner, his electronic tablet flew out of the pillowcase and struck the boy in the head.
Santiago told police that the baby was not crying, but after leaving for one or two minutes, the baby seemed unresponsive and appeared to be “gasping for air,” court documents indicated. Santiago said he did not have a phone, so he took the infant with him to a neighbor’s house to call Tata.
However, after further questioning, Santiago’s version of events changed and became inconsistent, according to police.
“Mr. Santiago made admissions to becoming frustrated that B.T. wouldn’t stop crying and picked up the pillow, which he knew had his tablet inside the pillowcase. Mr. Santiago stated that he purposely swung the pillow in B.T.’s direction with the intention of striking him in the torso or lower body area to startle the infant with hopes that he would stop crying,” say court records.
After he hit the boy in the head with the tablet, the baby continued crying, Santiago told police, adding that he then picked up the baby to rock him, at which time the infant “slipped out of his arms,” according to the affidavit.
Tata told police that overall, her son is usually a healthy and happy baby. Furthermore, she said the boy did not have any injuries prior to her leaving for work on Dec. 26, aside from a small bruise on his right eyebrow area that had been there for a few days.
Hospital staff told police that the baby suffered multiple seizures while at the hospital as a result of bleeding on both the left and right sides of his brain.
According to the charges against Santiago, injuries to the baby include multiple fractures to his arms, legs and ribs and widespread brain.
“He is stable, so he is no longer critical, but he is being monitored very, very closely because of the serious nature of the injuries. He is not out of the woods yet,” Nashua police Lt. Francis Sullivan, adding the child’s mother is cooperating with authorities.
The assaults allegedly began Nov. 7 when the baby was a month old and continued until Dec. 26.
Santiago will be back in court on Jan. 16 for a probable cause hearing. He is being held on $1 million cash only bail and has been ordered to have no contact with the Tata family or anyone under the age of 16.