Father of suspect in infant death speaks out

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The father of a man accused of beating an infant to death tells Fox 4 that his son is innocent. 

Lee County Sheriff's Office Detectives spent Thanksgiving investigating the home of 27-year-old Rafael Carrion Jr., after an infant stopped breathing in his care. The death investigation quickly turned into a homicide investigation after Carrion was interviewed. He is now being charged with Second Degree Murder and received a bond of over half a million dollars Friday morning.

Carrion's father, Rafael Carrion Sr. spoke with Fox 4 on Friday, when he told us 8-month-old Julian Valdez died after choking on milk. "Only a little bit past 3, he said the baby stopped breathing because he was feeding him milk, and he got choked with the milk," he said.

However, autopsy results reveal massive head injuries to the baby, consistent with a violent beating. Officials said Carrion couldn't explain it at the time of questioning, but according to his father, the baby fell down the stairs in front of his son's house. "My son told me about two or three days ago the baby fell from the step and he has little bruises on his face," said Carrion Sr.

Carrion is no stranger to the law. He has been arrested in Lee County over 13 times. Some of his charges include hit-and-run, theft and cocaine possession. Despite his criminal history, Carrion Sr. said baby Julian's mother, Amanda Ortiz, left her three children with Carrion Jr. and said she wasn't able to be reached after that. "She just came and brought the kids over 10 days ago and I haven't seen her," Carrion Sr. said.

Ortiz appeared in court Friday morning, where she lost custody of her other two children. They are currently in foster care. The children's grandmother is now pleading on Facebook for custody of her grandchildren. The children's father is currently in the Lee County Jail charged with resisting an officer, fraud, cocaine possession and also has an out-of-county warrant.

Carrion's father said his son has been in trouble in the past, but insists he did not beat the child and wants Julian's mother to take responsibility too. "They need to find her and arrest her too," he said. "A mom doesn't do that, leaves 3 children with somebody else and just leaves."

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