WOBURN (CBS) – Afghanistan war veteran Christopher Berry pleaded guilty to shaking and killing his son William only 9 weeks after the baby was born. “I’m here because I accidentally killed my son William,” he told the judge.
Berry was originally charged with second degree murder, but agreed to a deal that reduces the charge to involuntary manslaughter. During questioning by the judge, he explained he had been treated for mental problems after returning from his deployment. “Post traumatic stress disorder is, it can be, from any severe trauma, whether growing up or combat, and it causes unusual reaction of stress, nightmares,” he said.
A vehicle he was on with his unit was blown up by a suicide bomber just before he returned to the United States in 2011.
Two years later, Assistant District Attorney Gloriann Moroney said he admitted to police he shook his baby for 30 seconds. “He was stressed out and he was frustrated because the baby would not stop crying and wailing,” Moroney said.
The baby suffered swelling of the brain, and was in critical condition for six days before he died. Berry’s attorney said it was not intentional, but rather a case of someone “overwhelmed with his situation.”
“How is that an accident?” asked the baby’s aunt Sarah Cupan after the hearing. The baby’s grandmother Lisa Cupan described the void. “I saw him come into this world, and then I got to see him leave this world. Yea, I’m a little angry,” she said.
They both gave victim impact statements before Berry was sentenced to 12-16 years in state prison. They agreed to the plea deal to avoid the emotional trauma of a trial.
In August of 2011, Berry was accused of luring a flock of pigeons to a Billerica parking lot and then plowing his car through them, killing several birds. His lawyer hinted at a PTSD defense when he was charged with animal cruelty.
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