On March 18, Centreville's Mauricio Calquin became the father of a baby girl. Less than two months later, say authorities, he shook her so violently that she may have sustained possible permanent brain damage.
Monday morning, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Calquin, 23, of London Towne, pleaded guilty to child abuse: "causing life-threatening, internal injuries." And when sentenced in January, he could receive anywhere from two to 10 years in prison.
Before accepting his plea, Judge Kathleen MacKay questioned the young man standing before her in jail greens, with long dark hair and sideburns. He told her he had a 10th-grade education and is unemployed.
"Are you entering this plea freely and voluntarily and because you are, indeed, guilty as charged?" she asked. "Yes," he replied. "Do you understand that, by pleaing, you may waive your right to appeal?" Again, he answered, "Yes."
MACKAY THEN accepted his plea, and Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Kim Pace presented the facts of the case. Beginning in May, she said, when the child's mother returned to work after her maternity leave, "this defendant was left as the sole caretaker of the child."
On May 16, police Det. Constance T. Bates was notified that a baby had been brought to Inova Fairfax Hospital for retinal hemorrhaging — bleeding from the blood vessels in the back of the eyeball — which was causing seizures. "The baby also had bruising to the left cheek and forehead, as well as fractured ribs," wrote Bates in a May 22 affidavit for a search warrant to look in Calquin's townhouse for evidence.
Dr. Kent P. Hymel, medical director of Inova Fairfax Hospital for Children's Pediatric Forensic Assessment and Consultation Team, examined the infant and reviewed her records. "[He] determined that she had injuries to her brain," said Pace. "He said blood was covering most of her brain and that the injuries occurred between May 1-16 — one to two weeks prior to her entry into the hospital."
Then, said Pace, the infant was released from the hospital. "The hospital sent her back home?" asked MacKay, incredulously. "A 2-month-old baby with [these] injuries? That's absurd."
But Pace said doctors only saw the rib injuries, at that time. She said the newborn was "crying a lot," and her parents brought her to the hospital, initially, because "they thought she had colic."
Then Hymel looked specifically for child-abuse injuries. "The hospital didn't see the head injuries until a CAT scan was done," explained defense attorney George Wooditch.
BATES SPOKE with the infant's parents and asked how the injuries happened. "The father told [me] that a baby monitor in [the child's] crib caused the bruise," wrote the detective. "He also stated that the fractured ribs occurred when he was bathing the baby and she slipped from his grasp [while he reached for a towel]."
However, said Pace, Hymel determined that the infant's head injuries "were consistent with what is known as 'shaken baby.' He said the injuries to her ribs were caused by blunt-force trauma from back to front, consistent with chest compressions done during CPR."
Pace said Calquin was "inconsistent" about whether the baby's head hit the floor when he dropped her, and Hymel said Calquin's explanation was "inconsistent with the child's head injuries."
"[Hymel] said there was permanent damage to [the baby's] brain," continued Pace. "The doctor was unsure whether the areas of her brain injured by the shaking are going to regenerate. He said some tissue died in the front of her brain."
Police arrested Calquin on May 28, charging him with one count of child abuse. On June 30 in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, Judge Charles Maxfield certified the charge against him to the grand jury, and he was later indicted.
Calquin returned to court Monday to plead guilty. Judge MacKay then set his sentencing for Jan. 22 and ordered Calquin held in jail without bond. Afterward, outside the courtroom, Wooditch said the baby has not yet returned home to its mother's care.