An Oceanside woman was charged with second degree manslaughter last week for allegedly causing the death of her 2-year-old son last year. Nassau County prosecutors said Lois Saitta, 50, could face 15 years in prison for violently shaking the toddler, Christopher, who suffered severe brain swelling and died less than three weeks later.
According to District Attorney Kathleen Rice, police and emergency personnel responded to a 911 call at Saitta's home on July 20, 2009. Rice said the parents told police that the child fell out of his high chair and struck his head on the tile floor. After emergency responders found the child lethargic and unresponsive, he was taken to South Nassau Communities Hospital and later to Schneider Children's Hospital at North Shore LIJ.
The child required surgery to remove a piece of his skull to relieve pressure and, according to Rice, doctors determined that the child's symptoms indicated he was violently shaken. Saitta was indicted by a grand jury on April 8 - what would have been the child's third birthday - and arraigned on April 14.
“An innocent life has been violently taken, and I will do everything in my power to see that justice is served in this case,” Rice said in a statement. “Children are among our most vulnerable victims, and I will continue to aggressively prosecute those who seek to harm them.”
But Saitta's attorney, Kevin Keating, Esq., questioned the conclusion of doctors and said his client is innocent and well-known as a good mother.
"She is absolutely innocent," Keating said. "The medical opinion upon which the D.A. has premised this case is flawed. Lois Saitta is known by all to be a nurturing, kind and patient woman who loved her son."
In addition to the manslaughter charge, Saitta was charged with reckless assault of a child and criminally negligent homicide. She was released on $100,000 bond and is due back in court on May 11.