BOSTON, Dec. 13, 2013—A Lowell father was ordered held without bail at his arraignment today in the shaking death of his son, 9-week-old William Berry, Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said.
CHRISTOPHER BERRY (D.O.B. 5/14/90) was arraigned in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn today on a charge of second-degree murder in the death of his infant son. At the request of Assistant District Attorney Gloriann Moroney, chief of the Suffolk DA’s Child Protection Unit, Berry was ordered held without bail.
Though William Berry’s death occurred in Middlesex County, District Attorney Marian Ryan referred the case to Suffolk County prosecutors because a potential witness in the case – a social worker who was assigned to the Berry family after William’s birth – is related to Ryan.
According to prosecutors, Lowell police responded to Berry’s Mammoth Road home on May 11 to find William on a sofa with blood coming from his mouth. The infant’s breathing was irregular and labored.
Berry initially told police he found his son limp and unresponsive when he attempted to wake the infant. In a taped statement to police, Berry claimed that the infant had fallen from the couch nine days earlier, then changed his story and said he had dropped the boy on his head earlier that day, prosecutors said. He later told investigators that he was alone with the baby and became “stressed out” and frustrated at his son’s crying. He allegedly made statements admitting that he had shaken his son for approximately 30 seconds before the infant went limp, prosecutors said.
William was transported to Lowell General Hospital and then to Tufts Floating Hospital for Children with catastrophic injuries including fresh brain bleeds, retinal hemorrhages in both eyes, and swelling of the brain, prosecutors said. He died of those injuries on May 15. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner conducted an autopsy later ruled his death a homicide.
Parents and caregivers who find themselves frustrated with a crying baby can call the Parental Stress Line for free, anonymous phone support 24 hours a day at 1-800-632-8188. They can also find additional tips at http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/com-health/violence/all-babies-cry.pdf.
Berry is represented by Matthew Kamholz. He will return to court on Jan. 27.
All defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.