On Tuesday, July 31, 2018, at approximately 11:24am the Gretna Police Department and EMS responded to 1901 Lafayette Street in reference to an eleven month old baby suffering from a head injury.
Upon arrival it was determined that the child would be transported to University Hospital after the mother, Jennifer Avila, H/F, 10/15/1996, and her boyfriend, Fernando DaRocha, H/M, 09/28/1989, told officers that the child fell out of the bed and struck his head.
The mother was transported to University along with the child and maintained the story that the child had fallen out of the bed.
The child had emergency surgery and was placed on life support. After learning from the hospital staff that the child suffered multiple skull fractures and the injuries were not consistent with a child falling, detectives began questioning both Avila and DaRocha about how the injuries occurred. Avila then changed her version as to what happened, stating that DaRocha dropped the child in the bathtub but did not want to tell the police that so they fabricated the initial story that they first told the officers on the scene.
At that time Avila was arrested and charged with Obstruction of Justice for causing the hindrance of the investigation. DaRocha was also charged with Obstruction along with 2nd Degree Cruelty of a Juvenile for directly causing serious bodily injury to a child under the age of 17.
On Friday, August 3, 2018, which was also the child’s first birthday, the child was taken off of life support and succumbed to his injuries.
On Saturday, August 4, 2018, an autopsy was conducted which determined the death to be a homicide. The pathologist described the injuries as the child being in an automobile accident. The child’s skull looked like a broken egg shell and his back was bruised from his shoulder blades to his buttocks.
Detectives again tried to interview DaRocha who showed no signs of feeling or remorse about what he did or that the child had passed away. DaRocha refused to speak with detectives.
DaRocha was re-booked with 1st Degree Murder due to the age of the victim.
Arthur S. Lawson, Jr.
Chief of Police