McCloud man pleads no contest in death of infant son

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

A McCloud man pled no contest to a charge of second degree murder in the death of his 4 month-old son on Thursday in a Siskiyou County courtroom. Joshua James Proffitt, age 27, faces a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison, according to information provided by Assistant District Attorney Martha Aker, who litigated the case on behalf of the Siskiyou County District Attorney.

Proffitt will have to serve a minimum of 15 years before asking the Board of Prison Terms for a possible release date, said Siskiyou County District Attorney Kirk Andrus. Sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 15.

The Siskiyou County Sheriff-Coroner deputies responded to Mercy Medical Center Mt. Shasta on Nov. 27, 2018 around noon for a report of a deceased infant, the DA’s office said in a press release.

When they arrived, they were informed by an emergency room medical doctor that the defendant’s child, Ezra Proffitt, had been pronounced dead soon after his arrival at the hospital. Earlier in the day while his wife worked, the defendant had been watching the infant, said Andrus.

“The defendant became frustrated when the child was crying excessively,” Andrus said in the release. “He put his hands on the child’s throat and squeezed to try to silence his cries. Soon after that, he struck the child three times hard in the abdomen area with his knee. The child stopped breathing. The defendant then contacted his wife and reported that something was wrong with the infant.”

Andrus said Proffitt’s wife came home from work and immediately drove the child to the nearby McCloud Health Care Clinic with her husband.

Unsuccessful attempts at resuscitation were made and the child was transported to Mercy Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, Andrus said.

A few days later, an autopsy was performed by a pathologist with the Oregon State Police, who concluded that the cause of death was blunt force trauma to the infant’s abdomen, the DA’s office reported. The pathologist also discovered during the autopsy that the child had fractured ribs from an estimated two or three weeks prior that were in the process of healing.

Andrus explained that second degree murder is killing that is not deliberate and premeditated. Instead, this charge applies when a person, without the intent to kill, does a violent act dangerous to human life – knowing of the danger – and where a person dies as a result. This is called “implied malice,” said Andrus.

“In other words, malice is implied in the actions of the perpetrator, even if they didn’t intend to kill, because they should never behave that way toward another human being,” he explained.

“This case is singularly tragic and completely preventable,” Andrus said. “It is almost unspeakable to have to litigate a case where a tiny infant lost his life ... We feel great sympathy for Ezra and the way his short life ended, as well as his left-behind family. The investigation was handled with great professionalism by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office and they are to be commended, along with the medical professionals who attended to young Ezra.”

Andrus reminded all citizens to be cognizant and aware of the welfare of young children and to act to intervene if they suspect abuse. This may be done by a report to a law enforcement agency, to county Child Protective Services, or to any other mandated reporter of suspected child abuse.