Fresno Parents Accused of Fatal Child Abuse

4/23/2008 Fresno, CA Tuesday detectives arrested 23-year-old Eddie Hamilton and 25-year-old Lashonda Caldera for their infant's death. Hamilton faces a murder charge and Caldera child abuse.

Police believe the baby Elijah Hamilton was abused for most of his short life. Investigators say the cause of death is fatal child abuse syndrome, meaning the mistreatment was not a one time event. Neighbors told Action News they were surprised to hear about the couple's arrest.

"I'm really sad to know that something that happened hit so close to home. And I just don't know what to think. We're still in shock around here," said neighbor Tanesha Welch.

Police took the couple into custody after an autopsy Sunday proved initial reports of bruising on the baby's lower back were the beginning of a much larger abuse issue.

"That's the coroner's finding is the fatal child abuse syndrome and that shows that it's an ongoing continual pattern of abuse," said Fresno Police lieutenant, Shannon Galvan.

Investigators questioned the baby's parents throughout the weekend before determining Hamilton was responsible for the child's death. Police will not say whether he confessed to the crime.

Fresno Council for Child Abuse Prevention director, Esther Franco says deadly abuse among infants is a growing problem in the central valley. Often times, it's at the hands of a young father or the mother's boyfriend.

"There are resources for help. The first thing is to admit that you can't handle it. That it's too much for you that you either have a substance abuse problem or you don't have patience, you need help parenting because no one knows how to be a good parent it's a skill that has to be taught," said Franco.

Investigators initially responded to the hospital and then the complex Friday, after Caldera called 9-1-1 to report her baby was unresponsive after a nap.

Neighbors who live near the couple tell Action News they heard the baby crying often, but never suspected abuse.

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