A young father pleaded guilty to second-degree murder Friday for his son’s death in northwest Arizona.
Jonathan Vandergriff, 27, of Bullhead City, had been charged with first-degree murder in the June 15, 2010, death of his 5-week-old son Matthew.
“Matthew died from blunt force trauma to his head, most likely caused by shaking,” prosecutor Greg McPhillips told the court. “Matthew had a lot of injuries I have always thought were tortuous.”
Vandergriff struck a deal that could send him to prison for 13-20 years.
Mohave County Superior Court Judge Pro Tem Derek Carlisle scheduled a Jan. 31, 2014, sentencing hearing.
Defense attorney Randall Craig said that Vandergriff conceded shaking his son, but emphasized the state would have difficulty proving that the shaking was the source of the fatal injury. McPhillips and Craig said that lack of witnesses and conflicting expert medical analysis resulted in the deal.
Matthew’s mother Staci Barbosa, 22, is serving a 15-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to second-degree murder for her waiting several days to seek medical attention for the victim who died at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas.
In addition to the fatal injury, doctors determined that Matthew was malnourished and dehydrated, covered in bruises and had fractured ribs and a broken leg when admitted.