A Homestead man who tossed his toddler son onto a bed — causing a fatal blow to the child’s head — will serve seven years in prison.
Angel Villegas, 31, has pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter of a child and will also serve five years of probation after he leaves state prison. He accepted the plea deal late last week.
“This was unquestionably a tragic accident,” Miami-Dade Assistant Public Defender Julia Seifer-Smith said on Monday. “No amount of time that Angel could possibly do would remove or even mitigate the incredible sadness he feels, and that he is going to feel for the rest of his life.”
The July 2013 death of his son, 2-year-old Jayden Villegas-Morales, was one in a string of deaths of youngsters who had already come to the attention of Florida child welfare administrators. The deaths sparked turmoil at the Department of Children & Families — then-Secretary David Wilkins stepped down the same week the boy died.
DCF had given Villegas custody of the toddler even though the man was unemployed, living in a one-bedroom home with eight other children, had been repeatedly accused of domestic violence and had admitted to child welfare authorities that he had “an anger issue.”
The toddler’s death was one of nearly 500 examined by the Miami Herald in its 2014 series “Innocents Lost.”
Back in July 2013, Villegas was caring for the boy, who had fallen ill and had trouble breathing. Jayden had spent much of the day vomiting, at one point waking up his father in the middle of the night.
After the boy vomited in the bathroom, Villegas picked up his son and tossed him on the bed. “It wasn’t far. It was pretty close but when I tossed him I’m pretty sure he hit the wall... with his head,” Villegas told police.
Jayden covered himself with blankets. “I felt bad, you know. I looked at him and I told him I’m sorry,” Villegas told police.
Villegas said he lost his cool because he was under a lot of stress. The next morning, Villegas found Jayden “unresponsive” in his bed.