Tue. Apr 23rd, 2024

A Danville man was given the maximum 50 years in prison, with 25 years suspended, Tuesday afternoon in the death of his 3-month-old son.

23-year-old Antoine Juwan Jefferson was asked by Danville Circuit Court Judge James Reynolds if he had anything to say for himself before sentencing.

“I was in a panic and I didn’t think straight,” Jefferson said. Then he began to weep.

Reynolds was deliberate in considering the pleas for mercy by the defense, but in the end he gave Jefferson the full bore of his legal authority.

“I don’t doubt that you feel grief,” said Reynolds. “I just don’t think you accept that you killed him.”

Jefferson was found guilty of second-degree murder and felony child abuse following a bench trial June 12.

Jefferson initially told those attending to his fatally injured son, Deandre, that he had fallen out of a bouncer seat just inches off of the floor. Later he told police that Deandre had fallen out of bed at his godmother’s home about a month before his death.

Experts testified Deandre’s injuries were not consistent with either occurrences.

“His injuries we saw were not consistent with a short fall,” said Duke University assistant professor of pediatrics Lindsay Terrell. “His injuries are most consistent with significant head trauma.”

Terrell said in addition to three broken ribs, the infant suffered from a subdural hematoma (bleeding beneath the skull but outside the brain) and an injury consistent with a severe head injury.

Assistant Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Gayle Suzuki testified the cause of death was blunt-force injuries to the head and battered child syndrome.

The injuries were so severe that Suzuki said it was as if the child was in a car wreck.

“I would not be surprised to see these types of injuries in a car-crash scenario,” said Suzuki.

The investigation began on August 9, 2020, after the parents drove the unresponsive infant to Sovah Health-Danville and medical staff notified police.

Deandre was transferred to Duke University Medical Center where he died three days later.

During a five-hour bench trial in June, Terrell testified Deandre was clinically dead on arrival at Sovah Health-Danville.

“It was very concerning that his brain was not in a good state,” Terrell said. “He was extremely cold with his temperature at 90.8 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Danville police officer B.N. Jones said her case indicated the infant may have died as the result of being severely shaken August 9, 2020.

The day started around 5:30 a.m. when Jefferson got up to take his wife to work at Bojangles and took Deandre and two older children in the family with him, Jefferson told Jones.

When they got back home the two older children went back to bed and Jefferson kept Deandre with him in a car seat in the living room.

Jefferson told Jones it was around 11:30 a.m. when he noticed Deandre had a dazed look about him.

Jefferson had moved Deandre from the car seat to the bouncer, but returned Deandre to the car seat around 1:30 p.m. when he was getting ready to pick up his wife from work.

“The baby then went limp and Jefferson performed CPR, put the baby back in the car seat and the took Deandre and two other children with him to Bojangles,” Jones said she was told.

The prosecution noted that despite having performed CPR on his child, Jefferson failed to call 911, took a long, out-of-the-way route to pick up his wife at Bojangles and passed several shortcuts to the hospital on the way while a fatally injured Deandre was in the car with him.

Second-degree murder in Virginia carries a possible sentence of five to 40 years in prison while abuse of a child causing serious injury is punishable by two to 10 years in prison.

Reynolds imposed the maximum on both charges and then suspended half of the time leaving Jefferson with an active prison term of 25-years.

Jefferson was also ordered to pay $1,468.67 in restitution.

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By Buffy Gunner

Independent Journalist + Business Owner | Lover of all things true crime. Mantra: Only YOU can be YOU. | Los Angeles Born | buffygunner@illicitdeeds.com