WILKES-BARRE ‚?? A West Hazleton woman accused of violently shaking and injuring her then-5-month-old son pleaded no contest Friday to related charges and was sentenced to five to 10 years in state prison.
Andrea Vargas, 24, of Tamarack Street, was sentenced by Judge David Lupas on charges of aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment after entering the no-contest plea ‚?? meaning she does not challenge the evidence prosecutors have brought against her.
Vargas was charged in the February 2011 incident in which prosecutors alleged she shook the boy so violently the child, now 2, requires a respirator to help him breathe and a feeding tube.
Prosecutors said that if the child should die, Vargas could face additional charges, including homicide.
‚??The prognosis is not good,‚?Ě Assistant District Attorney Jarrett Ferentino told Lupas.
Vargas‚?? attorney, William Watt, had requested that his client be released from the county prison and remain free on bail pending a sentencing hearing, but Lupas denied that request. Watt then asked that Vargas be immediately sentenced.
Watt said his client wanted to spend some time with family members as they are not able to visit her in prison due to financial and transportation constraints.
Vargas did not speak before being sentenced.
Ferentino said Vargas faced a mandatory minimum of five years in prison on the aggravated assault charge.
‚??She assaulted her child‚?Ľ(who will suffer) for the remainder of his life, however long that is,‚?Ě Ferentino said in response to Watt‚??s request to have Vargas released from prison on bail. ‚??This is a horrific crime.‚?Ě
A doctor testified at a May 2011 preliminary hearing that the boy suffered serious brain injuries and that after an examination he discovered previous injuries such as fractured ribs, legs and arms that were in the process of healing.
Vargas initially told investigators the infant‚??s bruises and bone fractures were caused by her 1-year-old girl tossing a metal toy car into the crib and hitting the baby.
She allegedly admitted to county Detective Lt. Gary Capitano that she violently shook her baby when confronted with other injuries found by the doctor.
Capitano testified at the preliminary hearing that Vargas initially said she was watching an NBA basketball game with the biological father, Jorge Robles, on Feb. 3.
During halftime, Vargas said, her infant began crying and vomited. Robles came into the room and took hold of the infant as Vargas went into a bathroom. She alleged her infant stopped breathing and Robles performed CPR as