GOSHEN — An Elkhart man who pleaded guilty to killing his infant son in 2006 says he was coerced into an admission and questions the real cause of the boy’s death.
Carlos Tacio Ortiz, 34, was sentenced to 63-1/2 years in prison after he entered a guilty plea to murder in August 2009. He was accused of shaking 6-week-old Jaylen Ortiz hard enough to injure him, and the boy later died.
Ortiz filed a petition for post-conviction relief Tuesday in Elkhart County Circuit Court. If granted, the motion could have his conviction and sentence vacated, set aside or corrected.
He claims in the petition that prosecutors used the threat of a possible sentence of life without parole as leverage to make him sign a plea agreement. He had entered his plea just days before a jury trial scheduled for Aug. 10, 2009.
He also claims that “experts reports and medical records” show that shaken baby syndrome was not the cause of death for Jaylen Ortiz. He says an autopsy conducted by South Bend Medical Foundation Inc. “reported that there was clinical diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome which was circumstantial history” and that “external examination of the body, identifying marks and scars also shows nothing identified.”
Ortiz also says in the motion that his attorneys failed to file a motion to suppress the video of his interrogation “and Elkhart Police’s tactics therein.”
Ortiz was initially charged with neglect causing injury after his arrest on Dec. 8, 2006, after the baby was hospitalized. The charge was upgraded to murder when the boy died the next day.
He told a judge soon after his arrest that Jaylen’s mother left the boy in his care while she was at work. Jaylen was taken to Elkhart General Hospital, then transferred to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, after Ortiz had called 911 because the boy stopped breathing.
Then-Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill said Ortiz violently shook the infant in order to silence him. Hill said the baby suffered a severe impact wound to the head at some point, which is ultimately what killed him.