Infant Girl Shaken by Dad Dies 14 Years Later: Father Faces Homicide Charges

Infant Girl Shaken by Dad Dies 14 Years Later: Father Faces Homicide Charges
Handcuffs in a file photo. (Pixabay)

PITTSBURGH—A Pennsylvania man has turned himself in to face a criminal homicide charge after the death of a teenage daughter he injured when she was an infant.

Authorities say 37-year-old Ariden Jackson surrendered around noon on April 18 to Allegheny County detectives. It’s not clear whether he has an attorney to speak for him.

Authorities say Jackson told police in May 2005 that he shook 4-week-old Janiya in an apartment in the community of McKees Rocks, near Pittsburgh, because she would not stop crying.

“He continued to explain that [Janiya] messed her diaper when he tried to feed her a bottle, and she kept turning her head away and the neighbor’s music was very loud,” said the complaint, reported the Post Gazette. 

“Jackson stated he was frustrated, angry and unfortunately took it out on [Janiya],” said the complaint.

Police say doctors called the injuries life-threatening and “likely to cause long-term developmental disability.” Court documents indicate Jackson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and child and reckless endangerment.

Police say that the now-13-year-old girl died in February of “complications of a seizure disorder resulting from remote abusive head trauma.” The death was ruled homicide.

Court documents don’t list a defense attorney; a listed number for Jackson, so he could be reached for comment, could not be found Wednesday.

Jackson told police in May 2005 that he shook 4-week-old Janiya three times in an apartment in the community of McKees Rocks, outside Pittsburgh, because she would not stop crying, authorities said in a criminal complaint.

Jackson, then 23, said he had been trying to feed the child as his wife napped, and “stated he was frustrated, angry and unfortunately took it out” on the girl, according to the complaint.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the time called the injuries life-threatening and “likely to cause long-term developmental disability,” according to the criminal complaint.

Jackson pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and child and reckless endangerment and was sentenced to five to 10 years, court documents indicate. He was released in 2016 after serving 10 years, a spokeswoman for the Department of Corrections told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Janiya was being taken care of by Leshaun Byrd, 39, of Beaver Falls a few years before her death. Byrd had dated Janiya’s mother years ago and took the child in his home when her mother couldn’t find a stable place to stay.

“She’s been with me for the past five years,” said Byrd who worked with child protective services to look after Janiya.

“I just couldn’t see her going into care. Being that I knew the child and had a relationship with the child, I just decided to take her in,” Byrd told Post Gazette.

Byrd said that Janiya talked only a few words like “eat,” “tired,” and “bus.” “She talked very little, but she would tell you if she was happy or sad by her smile,” Byrd said. “She couldn’t tell you she was having a bad day, she would just act out. Most of the time, she was a great child.”

Byrd was glad to hear that Jackson has been charged for homicide. “He didn’t afford that little girl an opportunity to grow up and be a child and enjoy her youth,” Byrd said. “Most of her life she was in and out of hospitals. Some days she’d have short seizures, most of the time it was long seizures, and there were times she stopped breathing and we had to perform CPR.”

Byrd said Janiya had to visit the hospital so many times that ambulance drivers knew her by name.

Epoch Times reporter Venus Upadhayaya contributed to this report.

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