June 8, 2007 – VISTA, California —- A two-time Iraq war veteran with a history of domestic violence is likely to spend seven years in prison after pleading guilty Thursday to reduced charges in connection with the death of his 7-month-old son.
Jared Terrasas, 26, admitted to one count of child endangerment and to an allegation that his neglect caused the baby, Alexander, to suffer great bodily injury.
In exchange for the plea, prosecutors dismissed the murder charge the former Marine faced, and agreed that he should serve a seven-year prison term.
Terrasas and his wife, Lucia Terrasas, were living in an apartment on Mesa Drive in Oceanside when they rushed Alexander to the hospital at Camp Pendleton on Oct. 4, 2005, and told doctors he’d fallen out of a baby bouncer, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing in September.
Alexander was in cardiac arrest, according to court documents, but was resuscitated and remained in a coma until he died three days later. The medical examiner deemed the child’s death a homicide.
According to court filings, Alexander had brain swelling, skull fractures, bruises on his head and torso, and lacerations to his liver, spleen and kidneys. He also had rib fractures that were weeks old, according to a doctor who treated him.
The couple were both arrested three months later and accused of murder. In the interim, Terrasas, who was a sergeant, left the Marines with an honorable discharge and the couple moved to his hometown in Central California.
At the time of the baby’s death, Jared Terrasas was on probation after pleading guilty to beating Lucia Terrasas in 2003.
He had been ordered to complete 16 weeks of military domestic violence classes, but according to court documents, was deployed to Iraq before completing the course.
At least two judges who have reviewed evidence in the case called into doubt whether his wife played a direct role in the baby’s death. And, in January, one of the judges dismissed the murder charges against Lucia Terrasas.
On Thursday, Jared Terrasas’ defense attorney said the prosecution also could not prove that Jared Terrasas was responsible for the boy’s death and that he was not the baby’s primary caregiver.
Sherry Stone said her client maintains his innocence, but the risk of being convicted at trial and sentenced to life in prison was too great.
“He did not admit to giving the fatal blow, and he did not admit to abusing the child,” the lawyer said.
A statement in court documents said the defendant permitted his son “to be in a situation where his health was endangered.”
A phone call to the prosecutor was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.
North County Times wire services contributed to this report. Contact staff writer Teri Figueroa at (760) 631-6624 or firstname.lastname@example.org.