A three-year veteran of Citrus County Fire Rescue faces aggravated manslaughter charges after medical reports showed the father’s infant was beaten and died soon later.
Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies Tuesday arrested firefighter Jose Dorta III, 33, following a nearly one-year old investigation into the death of 2-month-old infant Jose Dorta IV in his care.
Dorta was an employee of Citrus County Fire Rescue since 2016.
The Tuesday arrest stems from a May 20, 2019, call for help in which sheriff’s deputies responded to a call for service in reference to an unresponsive infant, according to a CCSO news release.
According to Dorta’s arrest warrant, first responders reported that Dorta, the infant’s father, called 911 for help May 20, 2019. Deputies and EMS workers arrived at 2321 S. Zellner Drive, Inverness, where they found the infant “gray in color, not breathing and unresponsive,” according to the arrest warrant.
First responders took the child, Jose Dorta IV, to Citrus Memorial Hospital where the hospital staff declared the child deceased.
The next day the infant’s body was examined by Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Wendy Lavezzi who found several traumatic injuries, according to arrest documents.
The medical examiner found “blunt force trauma” to the infant’s head and extensive bleeding along the spine and eye nerves, according to arrest documents. The medical examiner also found the infant had a fractured right thigh bone and that the infant’s left rib had been broken and was beginning to heal.
Lavezzi determined that the child’s cause of death was homicide. Other medical experts reviewing the case came to the same conclusion.
The investigating deputies spoke with both of the child’s parents.
The arrest warrant reported that on the morning of May 20, 2019, Dorta III was in charge of caring for the infant. The father had just finished a 24-hour shift with the county’s fire rescue department.
The mother returned from work that afternoon and placed the infant in a rocker next to her with no apparent problems, according to arrest documents. At about 7:15 p.m., the mother went to the gym, leaving the infant with his father.
The father told deputies later he noticed that his son was having difficulty breathing while still in the rocker.
Dorta told investigating deputies he called his wife at 7:32 p.m. to tell her of their son’s labored breathing. Reviewing his phone records he told deputies he called his wife again at 8:18 p.m. to tell her that the infant was not responding and that finally at 8:24 p.m. he called 911.
When deputies asked Dorta why didn’t he call 911 immediately, he replied that he panicked and didn’t know why he did not call 911, according to arrest documents.
He told investigators that from the time his wife left for the gym until he saw the child have trouble breathing, the child was sleeping undisturbed and that he had not moved the child, according to arrest documents.
But a nanny cam that fed video and audio to an offsite location told a different story, according to arrest records.
The audio recording obtained by investigators showed that the infant cried loudly after his mother left for the gym and also that there were muffled cries from a different location in the home, according to arrest records. The video also showed the father crying and walking while holding the infant in his arms several minutes before calling 911.
Based on the medical evidence and inconsistencies in Dorta’s story when compared to the nanny cam recording, deputies arrested the infant’s father, according to arrest documents.