Hiawatha Henry pleads guilty to involuntary manslaughter in death of infant son

A Washington man has pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter in the death of his infant son, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced.

The prosecution contends that Hiawatha Henry, 19, of Washington, D.C., was taking care of his twin seven-week-old sons when one of the twins started to cry. Henry picked up the infant and sat down on a broken futon. He carelessly held and dropped the baby, whose head struck a metal frame on the futon.

Instead of seeking medical help, Henry ignored the baby’s crying and left the room. He later noticed the baby was having trouble breathing and called his aunt, who called 911.

The infant was taken from the apartment in the 1800 block of Bryant Street NE to Children’s National Medical Center. Prosecutors say Henry misled medical personnel and did not tell them that the he had dropped the infant. Instead, he said the baby had choked during his feeding. Medical personnel examined and released the infant.

The child was crying and coughing throughout the evening and into the next day. When the baby became unresponsive to touch, had trouble breathing and became discolored, Henry called 911.

At approximately 1 p.m. on August 29, the infant was taken back to Children’s National Medical Center and placed on life support. He was diagnosed with injuries that medical personnel said were not accidental. The child was removed from life support the next day at about 11:30 a.m. and pronounced dead.

An autopsy later determined that the cause of death was abusive head injuries with brain contusions and the death was ruled a homicide.

Henry pled guilty in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The Honorable Gerald I. Fisher scheduled sentencing for September 23, 2011. Henry faces a maximum statutory sentence of 30 years in prison.