Fort Worth

Fort Worth man accused in punching death of crying 19-month-old boy

Derrick Pete Silva
Derrick Pete Silva Courtesy

A 21-year-old man who admitted to investigators that he punched a 19-month-old boy in the head because he was frustrated by the boy’s cries has been jailed in connection with the boy’s death.

Derrick Pete Silva was arrested Thursday on a capital murder warrant.

Police say Silva had been involved with the 16-year-old mother of Armando Jose Soto when he inflicted the injuries on the child in November, according to Sgt. R.A. DeHoyos, supervisor of the crimes against children unit.

An ambulance was called to the Butler Housing apartment in the 1400 block of North South Freeway on the evening of Nov. 19 on a report that the boy was having a seizure.

Armando was taken to Cook Children’s Medical Center where he was later pronounced brain dead and died two days later.

According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the mother indicated that she believed that her son had fallen off the bed onto the linoleum floor. Hospital officials, however, notified police and Child Protective Services because the injuries were not consistent with a two- to three-foot fall.

The child’s mother initially told crimes against children Detective D.P. Jwanowski that Silva had gone to check on her son as he napped in a bed and found Armando having a seizure on the floor.

In a later interview, she changed her account, saying that it was actually a teen in the home who found Armando on the floor and placed him back in bed. She said the teen then alerted Silva, who checked on the boy and found he was having a seizure.

She told Jwanowski that Silva did not really like it when Armando cried, telling the child not to cry “like a little bitch” or that crying was for girls and if he didn’t stop, he’d take him to the hospital to have his “pee pee” chopped off.

In a voluntary interview with investigators on Dec. 5, Silva ultimately admitted that he believed he had caused Armando’s injuries, the affidavit states.

Silva told Jwanowski that he and the child’s mother were trying to get the boy to take a nap. He said the mother had left the room, leaving him a with a bottle to feed the boy, but that the child’s loud crying “frustrated” him.

He told the investigator he punched the child twice “really hard on the back of his head” as Armando lay on his side on the bed. He said the child’s hands and feet then began “twitching” or “shaking” and the boy would not drink his bottle.

Silva said he had left the room to watch TV and calm down when a teen relative heard the child’s cries and found Armando on the floor. The teen placed the child back in the bed and alerted Silva.

Silva told the detective he then carried Armando to the boy’s mother, saying that something was wrong.

The affidavit states that during his interview, Silva wrote Armando’s mother two apology letters, detailing how he’d punched her son twice.

Silva was originally arrested for suspicion of a sexual assault of a child under 17 due to his relationship with the teen mother.

He’d been free on bond on that charge when the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office recently ruled Armando’s death a homicide, caused by blunt force injury to the head. A capital murder warrant was then issued for Silva.

He was being held in the Tarrant County Jail Friday with bail set at $100,000, jail records show.

Tarrant County court records show Silva had previously been charged with injury to a child in 2014 but was no-billed in the case by a Tarrant County grand jury.

Deanna Boyd: 817-390-7655, @deannaboyd