A Union City couple was charged in the death of their infant son last week. The father, Miguel Ruiz, 30, was charged with aggravated manslaughter and the mother, Erika Flores, 33, with endangering the welfare of a child, said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio.
The incident took place on Friday, Jan. 23. When the 6-month-old baby, Ethan, stopped breathing, Flores called 911. Ruiz was also home at their residence on Summit Avenue at the time, said DeFazio.
Local police and emergency personnel arrived at the scene to try to revive the infant.
“The baby was not breathing,” said DeFazio. “It was in respiratory distress.”
The infant remained unresponsive, according to police reports, and was then taken by ambulance to Christ Hospital in Jersey City. Ethan died shortly after arriving at the emergency room, said DeFazio.
“The medical personnel noticed that there were various bruises,” he said. The Division of Youth and Family Services and the Hudson County Homicide Squad were notified, and the parents were interviewed by homicide detectives.
“The parents were interviewed Friday night because at that point, it was a suspicious death,” said DeFazio.
The next day’s autopsy at the State Regional Medical Examiner’s Office in Newark revealed contusions to various parts of the infant’s body, the prosecutor said.
“Besides the bruising, it was discovered that there were broken ribs and injury to the liver,” said DeFazio. “The cause of death was listed as blunt force trauma to the upper torso involving the thorax.” He said the thorax injury appeared to be recent.
“Apparently, this was a situation where there was a pattern of abuse [allegedly] at the hands of the father,” said DeFazio. He said that there was evidence the father had been aggressive with the child.
The mother is also being held responsible because “she [allegedly] permitted [the abuse] to continue under her watch” and she had “an obligation to make sure the child [was] not subject to abuse,” said DeFazio.
Other son lived with them
Another child, Flores’s 2-year-old son, also lived with the couple. DeFazio said the child was taken into the custody of DYFS and that a full medical examination done after the incident revealed that the boy was also allegedly abused.
“Unfortunately, we see these cases on occasion, year after year,” said DeFazio. “Thank goodness they are relatively rare.”
DeFazio said that it is not known whether Flores was also abused.
Both parents are being held at the Hudson County Correctional Center in Kearny. Cash bail has been set for Ruiz at $500,000 and for Flores at $100,000.
They made their first court appearance in the Central Judicial Processing Court in Jersey City by videoconferencing from the jail, according to published reports.
“They were hugging when they were brought in for their first appearance,” said DeFazio. They both pleaded not guilty.
Both parents allegedly are illegal aliens from Peru, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was notified, according to published reports.