Neck Whiplash Case Summary:
This is a review of a criminal case in which a young boy was killed by his biological father. The father of the child was a convicted felon who had recently been released from prison. The cause of the child’s death was severe neck whiplash and the resulting damage to his brain stem.
The night of his release, in a drug induced stupor, the father took the child from his crib, and in an attempt to stop him from crying, shook him violently. Regrettably, the father succeeded. After the infant’s crying had stopped, his mother saw that his limbs had become limp.
The mother took the child to a neighbor’s apartment and the neighbor, in turn, called 911. Paramedics at the scene could not revive the child, and the police took the father into custody, charging him with Felony Child Abuse and Voluntary Manslaughter.
Statement of Facts…
On January 12th, 2011, Omer Boyd was paroled from the Ellis Prison Unit of the Texas State Department of Corrections. Omer was released from prison after serving ten months for a parole violation on a previous charge of Possession of a Controlled Substance. Before being sent to prison he had lived in Dallas with his common law wife Rachelle Boyd.
On the day of his release, Rachelle picked Omer up at the prison and they both drove back to Dallas. A month before, Rachelle had given birth to a child she named Mustafa Boyd. Mustafa was Omer’s biological son.
Over the course of that evening, Omer became severely intoxicated, drinking almost a quart of vodka and smoking a quantity of “crack” cocaine. After spending much of the night at various bars and crack houses, he stumbled into the apartment he shared with Rachelle. As he climbed the stairs to the bedroom, he awakened Mustafa who began to cry.
After about twenty minutes of the child’s crying, Omer became angry and began to scream at Rachelle, saying to her, “Shut that damned kid up.”
Rachelle made continued attempts to stop Mustafa’s crying but to no avail. Furious, Omer got out of bed, walked to the crib, and began to shout at the baby. The shouting only made Mustafa cry louder. Omer then reached into the crib, picked the child up with one hand, and with the other slapped the child in his face. When that did not stop the crying, Omer shouted even louder, grabbed the baby and began to shake him.
At first he shook Mustafa only once, but this made the crying worse. Omer then began to shake the infant violently and repeatedly, each time snapping the infant’s body back and forth.
Suddenly, Mustafa stopped crying and became quiet. Rachelle described the infant as suddenly going limp in Omer’s hands. Rachelle said Mustafa’s shoulders shrugged and his arms and legs dangled from his body.
Once the child fell silent, Omer took Mustafa in one hand and slammed him back into his crib. Rachelle screamed at Omer, “What did you do? What did you do to my baby?” With that Omer pushed her aside and went back to their bed, seemingly content that the crying had stopped.
Rachelle, fearing for Mustafa’s life, picked him up and ran to her next door neighbor. Rachelle pounded on the door yelling for help. Her neighbor, Tara Henley, pried her door open barely an inch, just enough to stretch the latch chain its farthest. She saw what she later described as what looked like a doll in Rachelle’s arms. It took a moment for Henley’s head to clear and for her to realize it was Mustafa in Rachelle’s arms. She quickly opened her door an allowed Rachelle in.
After calming Rachelle down, Tara looked closely at Mustafa. As far as she could tell, Mustafa wasn’t breathing. He had also become blue and pale. Tara took the child from Rachelle’s arms and ran to her phone. Calling 911, she exclaimed, “Hurry, I think the baby is dead.“
Dallas Fire and Emergency arrived minutes later, and they almost immediately began CPR. They continued chest compressions but it became apparent that they were too late. Mustafa was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dallas Police had arrived at the apartment only minutes after Fire and Rescue. After listening to Rachelle and securing her permission to enter her apartment, they kicked in her apartment door and rousted Omer. Omer briefly resisted, cursing and kicking at the officers.
Omer was quickly subdued and then transported to the Lew Street Justice Center where he was booked on one charge of Felony Child Abuse and another for Voluntary Manslaughter. His bond was later set at $300,000.
During Omer’s trial the State called to the stand Rachelle. She recounted the story of Omer’s intoxication and anger at Mustafa for crying. She went on to say how helpless she felt as she watched Omer shake her child. The State also called the Dallas County Coroner to the stand. When the State asked the Coroner to describe the manner and cause of death of Baby B the Coroner stated:
“After performing the autopsy on the child known to me as Mustafa Boyd I concluded the manner of death to be homicide. The cause of death was a rupture to the brain stem resulting from the continued and violent neck whiplash perpetrated upon the child.”
The State rested and closed as did Omer’s Court appointed attorney. After a few hours the Jury had reached a verdict. As they re-entered the court room, they seemed to purposely avert any glance at the defendant or his attorney. The Judge asked the defendant Omer to stand. As he did the judge read the jury verdict saying:
“On the charge of Abuse of a Child we find the Defendant Guilty. On the charge of Voluntary Manslaughter we find the Defendant Guilty.”
With that the Judge thanked the jury and excused them from service. After the attorneys brief arguments on punishment, the judge again ordered Omer to stand. The Judge addressed him saying:
“On the second degree charge of Abuse of a Child you are hereby sentenced to twenty years in the Texas Department of Corrections. On the charge of Voluntary Manslaughter, enhanced under the habitual offender statute you are hereby sentenced to five to 99 years or life in prison.”
With that Omer was led away. The Judge thanked the attorneys and then adjourned the case.
The severe and prolonged shaking of a child often results in the brain striking the cranium. Repeated neck whiplash can also lead to the rupturing of the child’s brain stem. A rupture of the brain stem will almost always lead to the death of the child.
Whiplash is sometimes considered a desperate claim of those involved in automobile collisions. This case illustrates that neck whiplash is in fact a very real injury, and in extreme cases can be fatal.
*This case example is for educational purposes only. It is based on actual events although names have been changed to protect those involved. Any resemblance to real persons or entities is purely coincidental.
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