JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A baby left in a 22-year-old man's care last Saturday while the boy's mother was at work arrived at a hospital later that day with broken bones, bruises and bleeding "indicative of severe abuse." Police said the child died on Wednesday.
According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, the baby's 21-year-old mother left him with Garyon Gaston, who has been arrested and charged with aggravated child abuse and second-degree murder. Investigators said Gaston was in charge of watching the child while the boy's mother was at work.
Gaston was ordered to be held without bond Friday morning. He will be back in court July 8.
The child's name, age and relationship to Gaston were redacted from the police report, but a GoFundMe page apparently created by the mother uses the name Garyon Gaston Jr.
"Never in a million years did I think that I would have to bury my baby boy, Garyon Dantion Gaston Jr., at 11 months," she wrote.
According to the arrest report, Gaston told investigators the baby and a 22-month-old sibling were on a bed and he left the baby drinking a bottle. When he checked on them later because he heard noises, the baby was "spewing milk" and he tried to "render aid," he said.
In the arrest report, investigators said Gaston’s story on how the boy sustained critical injuries didn’t add up.
“When you’re talking about a child, an innocent child being tormented, physically abused, it’s going to outrage people," said News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson. "I’m outraged at the thought of a little small child that can’t fend for themselves while being physically abused."
Rosalind Jones, a neighbor, saw the police and paramedics at the couple's home in Springfield.
"I saw them coming out with the evidence bags and putting stuff in the van," Jones said. "It’s just heartbreaking that something like that would happen to an innocent baby."