SALEM — A troubled Salem father, described by his lawyer as “overwhelmed” by the responsibilities of parenthood, admitted yesterday to breaking his baby daughter’s arm and ribs during fits of rage last spring.
Jason McLaughlin, 23, was sentenced to two years in jail after pleading guilty to two counts of assault and battery on a child causing bodily injury. A judge during yesterday’s hearing in Salem Superior Court noted McLaughlin’s lack of maturity.
Judge Howard Whitehead called the case another “tragic and dangerous situation with young people who lack maturity having children,” and perhaps not appreciating how fragile a baby like 3-month-old Miley was at the time.
On the morning of April 6, McLaughlin returned home to the Loring Towers apartment he shared with the child and her mother after working an overnight shift at a local supermarket, prosecutor Jessica Strasnick said.
The baby’s mother went to take a shower, and McLaughlin sat down to play video games on his Xbox. But Miley was fussing as she sat in a swinging chair. She spit out her pacifier at least twice.
McLaughlin, acting out of what his lawyer described as “immaturity and frustration,” yanked on the baby girl’s arm. He would later tell police he heard the sound of her tiny arm snapping and then watched as it turned white.
At first, McLaughlin tried to convince doctors at North Shore Children’s Hospital and the police that he’d accidentally dropped the baby.
Moments later, he burst into tears and confessed the truth.
“I did it. I pulled her from her swing, and I felt her arm snap. I broke her arm, but I didn’t mean to hurt her. She wouldn’t stop crying,” he told police.
Doctors had discovered a clean break on the child’s arm. But they also found rib fractures that had started to heal. McLaughlin confessed that those were his fault, too, after he’d squeezed her in another effort to get her to stop crying a few weeks earlier.