NEW BEDFORD — Last June, Francis Harrison filed a restraining order against his son, Ethen, who he said threatened him and would break “whatever he gets his hands on.”
On Thursday evening, the baby daughter of Ethen Harrison’s girlfriend became a victim of that rage, authorities alleged Friday, and he was charged in connection with her death.
Authorities said Harrison assaulted 9-month-old Ariel when she “became fussy,” throwing the baby to the floor, snatching her up so her neck snapped forward, and battering her face.
Ariel Aluziario sustained a large blood clot on the right side of the brain and bleeding behind both eyes, prosecutors said. She died a few hours later.
Harrison, 23, who prosecutors say was alone in charge of the child when the assault occurred, was arrested and arraigned Friday on assault and reckless endangerment charges.
In New Bedford District Court, prosecutor Stephen Nadeau said Harrison had admitted to “acts that would be consistent with the injuries.”
When the infant became fussy, Harrison allegedly “became aggressive” and dropped her to the floor. He picked her up forcefully and threw her to the bed, according to court records.
Ariel then bounced off the bed, falling 4 feet to the floor and striking her head a second time, court records say. Police said Harrison admitted to shaking the baby and slapping her five times in the face.
The nature of the injuries indicated they “could only have been inflicted” during the time when Harrison was caring for the infant by himself in the apartment he and the baby’s mother share, Nadeau said. Harrison is not the child’s biological father.
Harrison pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail. Prosecutors said they expect to file more serious charges once an autopsy is complete.
Outside the courtroom, Nadeau said Harrison had “spoken at length” with investigators but declined to discuss the allegations in more detail.
The state’s department of Children and Families said it is investigating the death but has no prior relationship with the family of the victim. The agency said it had provided services to the Harrison family when Ethen Harrison was a child.
The baby was taken by private vehicle to the hospital around 6 p.m., prosecutors said. They declined to say who took her.
She was then taken by MedFlight to a Providence hospital for surgery and was pronounced dead around 10 p.m. Thursday.
The infant’s death closely follows a similar case in Cambridge, where a nanny has been charged with assaulting a 1-year-old girl in her home. The girl sustained massive head trauma and died two days later, authorities said.
In his affidavit for the restraining order, Harrison said his son was stealing from neighbors and threatening to beat him up. He would hurt himself, and carried knives.
“He’s out of control,” he wrote. “I am done with him.”
No one answered at the Harrison residence Friday.
New Bedford District Court had no record that Ethen Harrison was the subject of other restraining orders. Court records showed charges involving drugs, larceny, and disorderly conduct.
In the hillside neighborhood where Ariel and her mother lived, neighbors were horrified by the baby’s death.
“She was a beautiful angel,” said neighbor Aida Tevenal, 56, her voice wavering with emotion as she spoke on her front porch. “I am so sorry what happened.”
Neighbors said they believed Ethen Harrison had lived there since last summer, but they didn’t know much about him.
Ariel’s mother would often walk her up and down Adams Street, neighbors said, showing her off on the way.
Tevenal said the baby would light up if you tickled her chin just so.
“She was so beautiful,” she said. “If he did this, he should pay.”
No one answered the door at the Aluziario residence. In the narrow hall, a strand of police tape lay beside a baby car seat.