Oklahoma Watches and Warnings

Police: Man beats infant to death after learning he’s not the father

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man was arrested this week and faces deportation after Memphis police say he beat a 4-month-old to death upon learning the child wasn't his.

On April 12, the mother called dispatch saying the infant was having difficulties breathing. She called 911 and then began administering CPR. The victim was then rushed to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in extremely critical condition, where he later died.

The Shelby County Medical Examiner ruled the child's death a homicide, saying he had sustained injuries consistent with blunt force trauma, including a fractured skull, fractured ribs and a serious case of pneumonia.

Several days later, the mother returned to the police department claiming that a man had confessed to her that he had killed the child.

He reportedly stated he believed himself to be the child's father, but after the child's birth discovered that was not the case.

He struck the child multiple times in the head, killing him, police said.

The man, identified by local authorities as Jose Agurcia-Avila, was charged with first-degree murder in perpetration of aggravated child abuse and first-degree murder in perpetration of aggravated child neglect.

However, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement later said that name was an alias — the man's real name is Carlos Zuniga-Aviles, and his identity was confirmed through biometrics. They said he is a Honduran national in the country illegally, and he has been removed from the country five times in the past.

Through a translator, an acquaintance of the mother who was at the apartment Wednesday said she was there when the mother got the heart-wrenching news.

“She pretty much touched the kid and told her that the kid was dead, and she ... became crazy," the woman said. “(She) was crying. She never thought this could happen to her because her kid was healthy.”

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