Baby's death ruled homicide

Lawton_A baby's suspicious death in September of last year in Lawton now has been ruled a homicide.  Police said seven-month old Francisco Haith died after his father told investigators that he had accidently dropped him.  The medical examiner (ME)has since determined that the child's injuries were too severe for that story to be true.  Now, ten months later, the Comanche County District Attorney has charged the baby's father, Eugene Haith, with second-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutors say that even if the child's death was the result of an accident, Eugene Haith failed to get him medical attention after the fall - and, he was only yards from the emergency room.  Haith was at his apartment in North Lawton when he left to pick up his wife from work at a nursing home on the Comanche County Memorial Hospital Campus.  "He said as he was trying to go out the door, he had the child in his arms and he dropped the child and that he fell to the floor," says District Attorney Robert Schulte.

Later, Haith told police that his son was wheezing after the fall, but otherwise seemed okay.  He says he strapped the baby into his car seat, picked up the child's mother, and drove home.  "It wasn't until the mother removed the child from the vehicle that she realized the child was in some type of condition that might be life threatening," says Lawton Police Detective Chris Hall.

Emergency crews rushed Francisco to the hospital where he later died.  "The medical staff felt the type of injuries, the extent of the injuries that the child had, did not match with the way the parents explained the child had become injured," says Hall.  It was up to the medical examiner to make the determination, and it took time since two conditions that the child was born with needed to be ruled out.  "[The] medical examiner's office found there was trauma to the abdomen, specifically a lacerated liver," says Hall.  "The way the ME's office explained it to us was that the child would have had to have fallen from a three-story building to receive the amount of injuries that it sustained."

Schulte says he doesn't believe that Haith intended to hurt or kill his son, but by not getting him to a hospital, it resulted in his death.  "He had to sit outside the nursing home, wait on the mother to get off, come to the car, get in, he said nothing to the mother, did not drive the extra 200 yards to the emergency room, but took that child back home."

Eugene Haith was arraigned on Friday morning in Comanche County District Court, was booked into the county detention center, and later released on $5,000 bond.  Haith's preliminary hearing is set for August 25, and his son's death bumps Lawton's homicide count for 2007 up to 12.