Man Given 25 Years in Shaken Baby Death

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Todd Howell pleaded guilty, gets 10 years of probation after state prison

A Jacksonville man who pleaded guilty in the 2013 murder of his girlfriend’s 22-month-old daughter was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in state prison, followed by 10 years of probation.

Todd Howell claimed he dropped Kylieann Burress in November 2013 at the Villages of Baymeadows apartments and then shook her in an attempt to wake her up.

The 22-month-old stopped breathing and was rushed unresponsive to Wolfson Children’s Hospital, where she died about 12 hours later from shaken baby syndrome.

“Nobody in the world should ever have to see that,” the girl’s paternal grandfather, John Burress, said. “No child should ever have to be put through that, because it is just inhumane. It’s not right.”

Police said the incident happened after Howell took the girl’s mother to work. The two had been together for two months.

Judge Waddell Wallace said what happened was inexcusable and unjustifiable when he sentenced Howell to 25 years in state prison. Howell had pleaded guilty a month ago to killing the little girl.

Howell’s attorney and the State Attorney’s Office agreed to the sentence, along with Kylieann’s family, although her grandparents said they are far from satisfied and had hoped for more prison time.

“The punishment never fits the crime,” the toddler’s paternal grandmother, Carolyn Burress, said. “He took her life.”

Kylieann’s father, her grandparents and her aunt were among those who gave impact statements Thursday.

“We’ve got so many pictures that tell a story, a story that we can never get back and one that we could never move forward with,” Carolyn Burress, said.

John Burress said any time they spent with the bashful, sweet toddler was special.

“She was just that type of captivating person that would laugh and smile, even if she was sleeping,” John Burress said. “She was the perfect child to us.”

Howell spoke briefly, but did not directly apologize to Kylieann’s family.

“It is unfortunate what has come about in the situation,” Howell said. “I know that I loved her. I miss her every day, and I don’t have too much more to say.”

He was taken into custody after the hearing. He had been out on home detention. His family was in the courtroom, but left before making any comments.

Kylieann’s grandparents said the laws need to change so that the punishment is harsher for those who kill children. They also said parents need to be careful with who they let watch their children. They said they hope speaking out will save another child’s life.

The Department of Children and Families told News4Jax that two-thirds of all child abuse and neglect cases in the nation come at the hands of a single mother’s boyfriend. The majority of those cases involve children under the age of 3, which can make it difficult, but not impossible to stop problems before it’s too late.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

What Is Shaken Baby Syndrome?

Shaken Baby Syndrome– also known as abusive head trauma, shaken impact syndrome, inflicted head injury or whiplash shake syndrome– is a serious brain injury resulting from forcefully shaking an infant or very young child.

Shaken Baby Syndrome destroys a child’s brain cells and prevents their brain from getting enough oxygen. Shaken Baby Syndrome is a form of child abuse that can result in permanent brain damage or death. Shaken Baby Syndrome is preventable. Parents also can educate other caregivers about the dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Click here to learn more.

Abusive head trauma (AHT) is an injury to a child’s brain as a result of child abuse. It can be caused by direct blows to the head, dropping or throwing a child, or shaking a child.

Head trauma is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States. Because the anatomy of infants puts them at particular risk for injury from this kind of action, the majority of victims are infants younger than 1 year old.

SBS can happen in children up to 5 years old, but the average age of victims is between 3 and 8 months. The highest rate of cases is among infants just 6 to 8 weeks old, which is when babies tend to cry the most.

How Do Head Trauma Injuries Happen?

These injuries happen when someone (most often a parent or other caregiver) vigorously shakes a child or strikes the child’s head against a surface. In many cases, the caregiver can’t get the baby to stop crying, and out of frustration or anger, shakes the baby. Unfortunately, the shaking may have the desired effect: The baby cries more at first, but may stop crying as the brain is damaged.

When someone forcefully shakes a baby, the child’s head rotates uncontrollably. This is because infants’ neck muscles aren’t well developed and provide little support for their heads. This violent movement pitches the baby’s brain back and forth within the skull, sometimes rupturing blood vessels and nerves throughout the brain and tearing the brain tissue. The brain may strike the inside of the skull, causing bruising and bleeding to the brain.

The damage can be even greater when a shaking episode ends with an impact (hitting a wall or a crib mattress, for example), because the forces of acceleration and deceleration associated with an impact are so strong. After the shaking, swelling in the brain can cause enormous pressure within the skull, compressing blood vessels and increasing overall injury to the brain’s delicate structure.

Normal interaction with a child, like bouncing the baby on a knee or tossing the baby up in the air, will not cause these injuries. But it’s important to never shake a baby under any circumstances!

What Can Happen to a Baby With Head Trauma?

Shaken Baby Syndrome often causes irreversible damage, and about 1 in every 4 cases results in the baby’s death.

Children who survive may also experience:

  • partial or total blindness
  • hearing loss
  • seizures
  • developmental delays
  • impaired intellect
  • speech and learning difficulties
  • problems with memory and attention
  • severe mental retardation
  • cerebral palsy

Even babies who look normal immediately after the shaking might eventually develop one or more of these problems. Sometimes the first sign of a problem isn’t noticed until the child enters the school system and has behavioral or learning problems. But by that time, it’s harder to link these problems to a shaking incident from several years before.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

*Information listed above comes from the Mayo Clinic.

Scott Juceam: Entrepreneur and Advocate

Imagine it’s any other day; you’re at work, taking emails, and interacting with clients or co-workers. Everything seems normal, than you get a call from your wife telling you to rush to the hospital because something’s happened to your child. That’s the reality that Scott Juceam was faced with over eleven years ago.

Scott Juceam is an entrepreneur, and an advocate against Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). In May 2006, Juceam’s life changed forever when his infant daughter, Hannah Rose Juceam, was pronounced dead after being left in the care of her nanny. The nanny admitted to shaking the child in an attempt to wake her, but this resulted in the death of Hannah Rose. The nanny would spend two years in custody for charges of murder and child abuse. However, despite the evidence and the 10-2 jury ruling in favor of guilty, the case eventually ended in a mistrial. In the 11 years since the tragic event, Juceam has dedicated his life to preventing SBS.

“It feels like yesterday, and it feels like 100 years ago,” said Juceam, when asked about his daughter’s passing. “There’s a learning lesson in a decade… I’ve learned how to take this terrible pain and try to share it in a way that is tempered right, where people will be inspired or motivated to do something.” As of today, Juceam has given more than 500 speeches to first responders, and other people who need to understand the pain that SBS brings.

“Before my daughter took her last breath, that is where I told her, I promise you that I will let the world know who you are, and I will do everything I can to stop Shaken Baby Syndrome from existing.”

The trail for Hannah Rose Juceam’s murderer ended in a mistrial due to the testimony of a false expert witness. In recent years, there have been several of these expert witnesses taking the stand in cases involving SBS, who question the validity of SBS diagnoses. Because of this, Scott also advocates that there be proper vetting performed on all expert witnesses involved in SBS trials.

Every year, more than 1,500 infants die from being violently shaken. Most of the time, babies are shaken by caregivers, family members, or people close to the family. Sometimes the shaking happens out of aggression towards the crying baby, and other times it happens by accident.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) — also commonly known as abusive head trauma (AHT) — is a severe and preventable form of child abuse which often results in traumatic brain injury, and in extreme cases can lead to death. Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a child (usually under the age of five) is forcibly shaken. Even if the shaking is done only for a few seconds, the resulting injuries are almost always severe, and life altering. Children who have been shaken often experience bleeding behind the eyes, and around the brain which can lead to a variety of disabilities.
Most survivors of SBS suffer from long term disabilities due to being shaken as a child, including: vision problems, physical disabilities, hearing loss, delayed learning, and many others. One in every four children who goes through this type of abuse perishes from their injuries.
Shaken Baby Syndrome and abusive head trauma happen most frequently when a parent or guardian becomes angry or frustrated with the child, and resort to shaking him or her. This most commonly happens to infants who are crying for long periods of time. When the child won’t stop crying, sometimes frustrated adults will shake the child in an effort to stop the crying. However, the actions committed in those few moments of anger can drastically change a child’s entire life.

Today, Scott Juceam continues to fight against Shaken Baby Syndrome, and against child abuse altogether.

Child Abuse Rates Are Declining In The U.S.

A new federal study indicates that child abuse rates are dropping drastically in the United States (sexual abuse rates have dropped the most in recent years). Experts in the field credit the decrease in abuse rates to the large public awareness campaigns and crackdowns that have gone on.

From 2005-2006, around 550,000 children were victims of sexual, physical or emotional abuse. However that is 26 percent lower than it was in 1993, with 740,000 estimated victims of abuse. David Finkelhor, a top researcher in the field of child abuse is quoted saying, “It’s the first time since we started collecting data about these things that we’ve seen substantial declines over a long period, and that’s tremendously encouraging. It does suggest that the mobilization around this issue is helping and it’s a problem that is amenable to solutions.”

Beyond any doubt, the rise in awareness of the issues at hand has played a key role in reducing child abuse throughout the country. Through the internet, people are more exposed to the happenings of the world, and child abuse no longer remains in the shadows like it once did. A recent example of this is found in the YouTube channel of a man by the username of “DaddyOfFive”. DaddyOfFive created weekly, and sometimes daily content of him “pranking” his children, two of which were under his family’s care through the foster system. The “pranks” however, often involved physical violence and emotional torture. These pranks were often directed at the two foster children. The YouTube community saw this and created compilation videos demonstrating the violence and emotional abuse, and those served as evidence for the authorities to remove the kids from the abusive situation.

The number of sexually abused children decreased nearly 40 percent from 1993 to 2006. Though many experts didn’t comment on why the trend is moving the way that it is, some offered their theories. “There’s much more public awareness and public intolerance around child abuse now. It was a hidden concern before – people were afraid to talk about it if it was in their family,” said the Child Welfare League of America’s Vice President of Public Policy.

Child abuse has become a far more widely discussed topic in the last decade or so. There is increasing public awareness on the issue via the internet and social media, and child abusers are less able to hide in the shadows. Smartphones have played a significant role in the decline of abuse rates as well. Whereas in the past, child abusers would be able to carry out abusive acts without fear of being seen, now the risk of being caught is higher than ever. When everyone has a camera in their pocket, abusers realize that any of their actions can be filmed as evidence at any moment.

Child abuse is unfortunately still a problem today. There are around 3.6 million referrals to child protection agencies every year. That’s roughly one report every 10 seconds. Physical abuse is the most prevalent among these reports, accounting for nearly 30 percent of all cases. Even though the rates are declining, the United States still has a lot of room to improve when it comes to preventing abuse. The U.S. has some of the highest child abuse rates among industrialized nations; it’s estimated that between four and seven children every day lose their lives to child abuse in the U.S. There is still much work to be done, and people such as Scott Juceam are doing everything they can to eliminate child abuse altogether.

Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.