Firefighter beat infant to death, x-rays showed previous injuries

firefighter, daily lash, inverness florida, infant, homicide
Jose Dorta III

New information in a case involving a firefighter and his 2-month-old son.

According to detectives, on May 20, 2019, Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a call for service in reference to a two-month-old infant who was unresponsive. First responders on the scene discovered that the infant was having difficulty breathing and that, prior to arrival, the infant had stopped breathing altogether.

Detectives said that as the infant was being stabilized and EMS arranged for transport to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, however, the child succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced deceased.

A year later, on May 12, 2020, investigators arrested 33-year-old firefighter Jose Dorta III. He has worked for the Citrus County Fire Rescue for three years.

When EMS responded to Dorta’s home that day in 2019, they reported that they found the infant unresponsive, not breathing, and gray in color.

The very next day, May 21, 2019, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Wendy Lavezzi immediately found that the infant died from “blunt force trauma.”

Lavezzi reported that the infant suffered extensive blunt force trauma to the infant’s head, bleeding along the spine and eye nerves, and a broken left rib and fractured thigh bone that had already started to heal. This indicated that the child had previously been beaten.

Lavezzi determined that the cause of death was a homicide, according to court records,

Dorta denied any wrongdoing and denied moving his son from where he had been sleeping after his wife left.

During the investigation, it was determined that the mother left the home at approximately 7:15 p.m. to go to the gym after Dorta had returned home from work. A short time later, as captured on a nanny cam, the baby started crying. Moments later, Dorta is seen crying and pacing back and forth while carrying his son.

Dorta called his wife at 7:32 p.m and told her that their son was having trouble breathing. Dorta did not call 911 until 8:24, according to court records.

Dorta tried to convince investigators that the child was already having trouble breathing before his wife left.

Based on evidence from the nanny cam and medical examiner’s report, Dorta was charged with Aggravated Manslaughter and Child Neglect.