A 28-year-old West Virginia man faces up to life in prison for brutally killing his infant daughter by shaking and strangling the child to death. A jury in Jackson County on Tuesday found Jeffrey Todd Hoskins guilty on one count each of manslaughter, child abuse by a parent resulting in death, and strangulation, in the death of 6-month-old Riana Hoskins, authorities announced Wednesday.
According to court records reviewed by Law&Crime, prosecutors had been seeking to convict Hoskins on a charge of first-degree murder.
“What he did was commit the first-degree murder of his biological daughter, Riana Hoskins,” Jackson County Prosecutor Kyle Moore said during closing arguments, according to Charleston ABC/Fox affiliate WCHS-TV.
Under West Virginia law, Hoskins will face maximum sentences of one year for the manslaughter charge, five years for the strangulation charge, and 15 years to life for the child abuse charge.
“We’ve seen various cases [of] shaken baby [syndrome] – it was that to the extreme,” Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger reportedly told The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. “I think the child was 6 months old.”
Per the report, deputies with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 7, 2018 responded to a call from officials at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Charleston regarding an unresponsive infant who was brought in with what doctors believed to be a case of shaken baby syndrome. Doctors attempted to resuscitate the baby, eventually placing her on life support. The child held on for more than a year before succumbing to her injuries on Jan. 8, 2020.
Hoskins reportedly told investigators that he was feeding the baby when she suddenly started choking and lost consciousness. However, police said Hoskins repeatedly changed the story he told to investigators.
“When questioned further, Hoskins changed his story and confessed to shaking the child after it choked on formula and lost consciousness. [Hoskins] continued to change his story stating that he shook the baby harder than he originally stated,” Jackson County Sheriff Ross Mellinger reportedly said. Mellinger noted that Hoskins allegedly demonstrated the action for investigators by shaking a stuffed teddy bear “hear enough for the head to bob back and forth,” per the Sentinel.
According to a probable cause affidavit, Hoskins admitted that he made up the story about his daughter choking after a witness told authorities that she saw him hold his hand over the baby’s mouth in an attempt to stop her from crying.
“[Hoskins] stated that the child was crying and wouldn’t stop, so he shook her hard and then held her by the neck and strangled her,” the document reportedly said. He reportedly confessed to shaking the baby in similar fashion on three or four previous occasions as well.
Several days after Riana was hospitalized, doctors who were treating her reportedly notified investigators that they’d found evidence indicating she had previously sustained similar injuries and showed signs of healing.
Following her death, the medical staff reportedly said that even if Riana had survived the attack it was likely she would have sustained severe brain damage and spent the remainder of her life on a ventilator.
Authorities reportedly said that prior to his arrest, Hoskins told people that if Riana died he planned to flee the state.
“She better not die, she needs to get better, fully healed and back to normal so they won’t be too hard on one for this. I’m running from a murder charge, I’m not trying to do life with no mercy in prison, that’s too long,” he reportedly wrote on a social media platform. “I’m only 25 years old. I would rather die than do the rest of my life in prison.”
Per the Sentinel, the jury only deliberated for 45 minutes before returning a guilty verdict on the aforementioned charges. A sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
[image via Jackson County Sheriff’s Office]
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