Norman Gaskins III, 19, of Auburndale was charged yesterday by Polk County Sheriff’s Office detectives with two counts of aggravated child abuse and was booked into the Polk County Jail. He is currently being held on no bond.
On March 19 deputies initiated an investigation regarding an injured child. Deputies learned from a Department of Children and Families investigator that a two month old girl was airlifted to Tampa General Hospital on March 18 from Lakeland Regional Health in reference to localized bleeding throughout the brain of the child.
The investigator told deputies that the victim was seen by medical staff at Tampa General Hospital on March 19 and it was learned from a CT scan the victim suffered localized bleeding throughout the brain, and that some of the bleeding was old and some was new. There was a right temporal fracture to the victim’s skull and there were six fractures to the left side of the victim’s ribs. The doctor said that the injuries were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome.
PCSO detectives learned that there were two primary care givers for the child, Gaskins and 21-year-old Mary James of the same address. Gaskins, who stayed at home with the baby during the day, was the primary care giver. Mary James worked during the day. They told deputies they took the baby to the Night Owl clinic in Winter Haven on March 18 because she was pale and appeared to not be feeling well. Gaskins told deputies the baby seemed not to be feeling well for about a week. The doctor at the clinic observed swelling on the baby’s head and they were advised to go to LRH.
Both Norman Gaskins and Mary James told deputies they did not know why the baby was sick and both denied knowing how she received the injuries identified by medical staff at Tampa General Hospital. Both denied hurting the baby. Later, on March 20th, Gaskins told deputies he unintentionally hit the baby’s head on the crib while he was putting her down and that he also dropped his cellular phone on her head.
Deputies re-interviewed Norman Gaskins yesterday, Monday, March 23, 2015. During the interview Gaskins admitted to twice becoming frustrated with baby because she was crying and would not stop. Norman admitted to picking the victim up around her stomach with both hands and shaking her.
Norman admitted to shaking the victim out of frustration on 02-28-15 for approximately one to two minutes. He admitted to a second incident during the week of 03-09-15 where the victim was crying and he became frustrated with her. Gaskins said he shook the victim for approximately one minute during this incident.
The baby has been treated at Tampa General Hospital since she was admitted and is expected to be discharged today to the care of Mary James. Detectives believe that Mary James had no involvement in the abuse. She was completely cooperative during the investigation. The baby’s current condition is good/stable, but it is too early to tell if she will suffer developmental delays from the injuries she received. Further testing and follow up medical care will continue.
There is no prior history with the Department of Children and Families for either Mary James or Norman Gaskins. Neither have a criminal history.
“I strongly urge anyone who is caring for a baby and who is feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty coping, to reach out to family or medical professionals for help. There is no excuse to hurt a baby or child. Never, never, ever shake a baby. We will arrest you, take you to jail, and hold you accountable for your actions if you do.” --Grady Judd, Sheriff