A West Haven man charged in connection to the death of an Ansonia baby was offered a plea deal Thursday that could result in an 11-year prison sentence — or no jail time whatsoever.
The man, Angel Luis Santiago, 36, appeared briefly Thursday at Superior Court in Milford, where State’s Attorney Kevin Lawlor said a plea offer had been conveyed to Santiago after a pretrial conference.
The offer calls for Santiago to be convicted of first-degree manslaughter and risk of injury to a minor in exchange for a 20-year prison sentence to be suspended after up to 11 years, followed by five years of probation.
Under the terms of the offer, Santiago’s lawyer, public defender David Egan, would have a right to argue at the sentencing hearing for less time or no jail time.
Judge Frank Iannotti continued the case to Dec. 18 for Santiago to consider the offer.
Next month’s court appearance will come a day before Santiago marks two years behind bars, having been held on $1 million bond since he was charged in December 2011 with causing the death of 5-month-old Kyle Robinson in Ansonia that June.
At the time of Kyle’s death, Santiago was the boyfriend of the baby’s mother.
The Connecticut doctor who performed the autopsy concluded Kyle Robinson died from blunt force trauma and ruled the death a homicide.
The nine-page arrest warrant used to charge Santiago with first-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault, and risk of injury to a minor does not provide a concise explanation of what happened to baby Kyle.
The warrant relies on statements from several doctors who determined Kyle died from injuries received shortly before he was brought to the hospital.
Police allege Santiago is the only person who could have done it, partly because he was the only adult watching the baby at the time.
At the time of Santiago’s arrest police said they believe the death was caused by shaken baby syndrome, and spent the months after the child’s death talking to doctors in order to get a strong enough case to apply for a warrant.
Santiago disputed the police account of Kyle’s death throughout the investigation, going so far as to proclaim his innocence in a TV interview while on the way to surrender to police in December 2011.
“I loved him like my son,” Santiago told WFSB’s Robert Goulston. “I would never do anything to hurt him.”
Since Santiago’s arrest, Egan has also attacked the police theory of the case, and tried to convince judges to lower his client’s $1 million bond, even soliciting a letter from a Michigan medical examiner who cast doubt on the shaken baby explanation.
But while a judge said the letter was “interesting,” he pointed out that it didn’t necessarily weaken the prosecution’s case, and denied Egan’s motion to reduce Santiago’s bond.
The baby’s death was also reviewed by the state’s Child Fatality Review Panel.
Faith Vos Winkel, an official with the state’s Office of the Child Advocate, said Thursday that the panel looked at the case but that a public report won’t be issued because the case did not give rise to any “glaring assistance issues” or necessary “major systems reform” to which the child advocate’s office would want attention drawn.
She said disputes over the issue of shaken baby syndrome won’t be resolved anytime soon.
“We have ongoing discussions around important topics like forensics and how children get abusive head trauma,” Vos Winkel said. “We certainly are looking at the literature around that, and we meet with folks. That’s something that’s ongoing and we’re not going to resolve too quickly.”
Santiago is being held at Cheshire Correctional Institution, according to Correction Department records.