CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — It’s been more than six weeks since Giovanni Dimas Romero, a 3-month-old infant from Cranston, died after his father allegedly shook him to death.
To say it’s been difficult for Giovanni’s mother Sandra Romero to cope would be an understatement. But the mother of two, who is now divorcing the murder suspect, is working to prevent another child from suffering a death like Giovanni’s.
Romero and her family have organized a nearly two-mile march in Giovanni’s memory to raise awareness for child abuse on Saturday morning.
Jose Rodriguez, a victim’s caseworker at the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence, is helping the family organize the walk.
“It hits close to home,” Rodriguez said. “I’m a parent myself.”
Even as a victim’s caseworker, Rodriguez says he doesn’t come across murder cases like Giovanni’s often. Police said his cause of death was Abusive Head Trauma, or Shaken Baby Syndrome.
“When I think about violence, I think about shootings that are happening within the city of Providence, Central Falls and Pawtucket,” Rodriguez said. “This is something that is not on my radar on a daily basis.”
The day after Giovanni’s July 9 murder, Cranston Police were quick to publicly say his death was preventable. The murder suspect, Giovanni’s father Elias Romero, did not immediately call 911 after he realized the infant wasn’t breathing, police said.
Sandra Romero and her brother Alex Peña say Romero initially called his mother, attempting to revive the baby, rather than calling 911. He then called Sandra at work, who dialed 911 herself.
“People don’t call for help as much as they should,” Rodriguez said. “There should be no lag in the amount of time between the time of it happening and you dialing 911.” Rodriguez also said parents who become frustrated with a crying child should always put the baby down, and call a friend or family member for help. “We often overlook how fragile a child actually is…we need to be careful.”
Giovanni has now been gone for more than half the time he was alive. His mother remembers him as always smiling; he would light up when he saw his two-year-old brother, Elias Jr. The toddler was in the room when his brother was killed, and the family says Elias Romero initially claimed Elias, Jr. had caused Giovanni’s injuries.
Sandra Romero and Alex Peña said their family has had no contact with Elias Romero since his arrest. If convicted, the family hopes he is never released from prison. Romero’s next hearing on the murder charge is August 30.
The walk to prevent child abuse is scheduled for Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at the Elmwood Avenue entrance of Roger Williams Park.
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