JBER soldier charged in infant son’s shaken-baby death

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson
Fighter, support and transport aircraft assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson fill a runway during a 2020 “elephant walk” demonstration. (From Staff Sgt. Curt Beach/U.S. Air Force)

A soldier at Anchorage’s Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is accused of fatally shaking his infant son while he was on leave to care for the child this spring.

Spc. Antonius Meyers, 24, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder, manslaughter and six assault counts in the child’s death, the state Department of Law announced Tuesday. Army officials say Meyers, a mechanic in the 11th Airborne Division, enlisted in 2021 and arrived in Alaska in May 2022.

A call to Meyers’ defense attorney wasn’t immediately returned.

According to a charging document against Meyers, Anchorage police were informed April 4 that Meyers’ 28-day-old son was at Providence Alaska Medical Center with chest bruises and lesions on his tongue. A CT scan on the child showed he had suffered bleeding near his brain.

Meyers’ wife told investigators that he had been given three months of paternal leave to help care for the child, and that Meyers looked after him at night while she cared for him during the day. She said the three of them had been sleeping together on the morning of April 3 when Meyers took the boy downstairs to feed him at about 5 a.m.

“She said when she gave (the child) to Antonius, his eyes were open and he was alert,” police said in the document.

According to the charges, Meyers initially told police that he fed and burped his son, changed his diaper and they fell asleep on a couch. When he woke up shortly after 8 a.m. to feed his child again, he said, the baby was unresponsive but still breathing.

Meyers said he took his child to the base hospital, calling a nurse while he was en route. The nurse told him the child could have Shaken Baby Syndrome, brain injuries caused by forceful shaking.

According to the charging document, Meyers said that he used some pressure on the child’s chest to hold him down while swaddling him and that he occasionally closed the boy’s mouth when he was crying to help calm him down.

In a later interview, the charges say, Meyers admitted to shaking the baby as he cried, in a manner that made the child’s head sway forward until his chin hit his chest. He also said he had never before used violence against his son.

According to the charges, Meyers told police, “I’m not a bad person. I just had one hiccup and I panicked.”

Soon afterward, a doctor told a district attorney that the child’s injuries “were considered non-accidental trauma injuries, consistent with a baby being shaken.”

Providence staff placed the child in a medically induced coma, keeping him on life support. A spokesman for the Department of Law said the infant died May 15, with a grand jury indicting Meyers on murder charges June 19.

Meyers was being held Tuesday at the Goose Creek Correctional Center. If convicted on the murder charges, he faces up to 99 years in prison.

a portrait of a man outside

Chris Klint is a web producer and breaking news reporter at Alaska Public Media. Reach him atcklint@alaskapublic.org.Read more about Chrishere.

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