Midvale man booked into jail in connection with infant son’s death

Mug shot: Zachary Joe Sandoval

MIDVALE, Utah — A Midvale man was booked into the Salt Lake County Metro Jail Tuesday in connection with the November 2016 death of his infant son.

Zachary Joe Sandoval, 19, faces one count of murder, a first-degree felony, and three counts of child abuse, a second-degree felony.

According to a document filed Thursday in Third District Court, Sandoval and the baby’s mother took the infant son to an emergency room in Riverton in the early morning hours of November 1.

Sandoval told police he had been responsible for caring for his son that morning, saying he had been watching TV and found his son “floppy” when he went to check on him.

“He pinched [the baby], poured cold water over him and when nothing worked, Sandoval woke up [the baby’s mother]. They attempted CPR and took the baby to Riverton Hospital in their car. During the interview, both parents denied any accidents suffered by [the baby] in the last 24 hours and said the baby had been sleepy and feeling sick,” a Unified Police officer wrote in a report.

Medical staff attempted CPR and life-saving measures, the report said, but were unable to revive the baby. He was pronounced dead at 4:03 a.m.

A doctor with the Utah Office of the Medical Examiner performed an autopsy on the baby, and found neck injuries that indicated possible attempted strangulation or suffocation, the report said.

“[The baby] had suspicious bruises under his chin, on his flank, on his chest, under his clavicle, and two sets of suspicious bruises with associated bleeding under the scalp on the back of the head, as though he had been impacted with a patterned object or surface,” the report said.

The examiner also found one of the baby’s ribs and his right collarbone were fractured, the report said. The rib fracture appeared to be recent and the collarbone fracture appeared to be weeks old.

Furthermore, the report said, the examiner found “old and new subdural blood in the infant’s head, and an opthalmic pathologist found retinal hemorrhages and macular folds in both eyes, along with optic nerve bleeding in both optic nerves.

The injuries, the examiners concluded, were consistent with non-accidental trauma. They found the baby’s cause of death to be blunt force injuries to the head with associated trauma to the torso, and the manner of death was homicide, the report said.

The court document indicates Sandoval is also facing charges of aggravated assault and sexual exploitation of a minor in separate, pending cases.