Man accused of killing 21-month-old boy during abuse appears in Broward court

U.S. Marshals arrested Ricardo Antonio Morales on Wednesday and he appeared in court on Thursday in Broward County. (BSO)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – A 38-year-old man who stands accused of killing his girlfriend’s 21-month-old son in 2019 appeared in court on Thursday after U.S. Marshals arrested him on Wednesday.

Detectives with the Hollywood Police Department accused Ricardo Antonio Morales of abusing the toddler before he reported him unresponsive on April 27, 2019.

Morales attributed the boy’s injuries — a skull fracture, brain bleed, and a fractured rib — to falls at their home in Hollywood, according to Detective Sean Keough’s report.

“Morales seemed unusually calm throughout the interview,” Keough wrote.

The boy’s mother told police officers that Morales appeared to be drunk when she left to work and her son was sleeping in a crib, according to the police report. She also said her son was suffering from flu-like symptoms that a doctor at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital looked at on April 26, 2019, police said.

The mother said that she was at Memorial Regional Hospital, also suffering from flu-like symptoms, when Morales contacted her to say her son had fallen and was unresponsive, according to the report.

The boy’s mother told police officers that she rushed out of the hospital, took a Lyft home, and followed the Hollywood Fire Rescue ambulance. Three days later, she and the boy’s father decided to discontinue life support, police said.

Dr. Jason Shulman, the medical director for child protective services, reported the fractured rib was “highly specific for abuse.” The medical examiner ruled that blunt head trauma was the cause of death and that the manner of death was a homicide.

A Broward County grand jury learned of the case on Nov. 28 and indicted Morales for first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse. Records show Circuit Judge Michael A. Usan issued a warrant for his arrest on Dec. 2.

Morales, who was born in Wilmington, Delaware, had a record of arrests in Broward that included an assault in 2010, driving under the influence in 2011, and possession of marijuana in 2015. Deputies were holding him without bond.

About the Author:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.