PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Cranston man charged in the death of his infant son five years ago has accepted a plea deal.
Elias Romero pleaded no contest Wednesday to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years at the ACI, with 27 to serve and 13 on suspended probation.
“In cases involving the loss of a child, prosecutors and law enforcement are keenly aware of the great responsibility they have to seek justice on behalf of an inherently vulnerable victim,” R.I. Attorney General Peter Neronha said. “I hope that the lengthy sentence handed down by the court represents some small measure of justice for Giovanni’s family and loved ones.”
Romero was arrested in July 2016 after his 3-month-old son Giovanni was found unresponsive at his Station Street home.
Giovanni was transported to Hasbro Children’s Hospital, where doctors told investigators his injuries were consistent with “shaken baby syndrome.”
Investigators later revealed Elias had become frustrated with Giovanni and shook him, causing a brain bleed that resulted in the baby’s death two days later.
Elias apologized for his actions prior to his sentencing in Providence Superior Court.
“I could never take back what I’ve done,” he said. “I lost a part of me that I will never get back.”
Giovanni’s mother, Sandra Peña, tells 12 News her son was known for his bubbly personality.
“He was such a happy, loving baby,” Peña said. “His smile would light up the room. I miss him so much.”
Peña said Elias should have immediately called for help after noticing Giovanni wasn’t breathing. Instead, Elias called her while she was at work.
“I was in complete shock,” she recalled. “I couldn’t believe he didn’t call 911. So I quickly hung up and called myself.”
Peña said Giovanni’s death has impacted her entire family, including her oldest son who was two years old at the time.
“Just the other night, he asked, ‘Where’s my baby brother? Why did he die?'” she said. “My son is traumatized from witnessing the murder of his baby brother.”
Ever since her son’s death, Peña has spent her time raising awareness for child abuse. She hopes new parents are being taught about shaken baby syndrome prior to leaving the hospital with their newborns.