Ocala Man Allegedly Fractures Toddler's Skull
NORTH CENTRAL FLORIDA - Parents expect their children to be safe at the care of others they trust; however one child is recovering from serious injuries and an Ocala man is being charged with cruelty towards a child and aggravated child abuse. The child's mother never expected this from someone so close.
Gabriel Peterson is at UF Health Shands after suffering two separate fractures in the back part of his head and bruising all around his face. The man accused of fracturing the 2-year-old's skull, is his mother's boyfriend.
"I am still wrapping my mind around the fact that he did it," said Jessica Todd, a mother from Ocala filled with worry. "It's horrible… you don't expect to go to the grocery store and come home to find your son looking at you with one eye almost swollen shut and they're turning purple. It was horrible," Todd said.
Todd and Reese Rockwell were high school sweethearts. After some twists and turns in life they ended up together with children from separate marriages. Todd says it all happened when he was babysitting his own two kids and two of Todd's kids.
Todd said, "It's really hard to trust people in general… I've known him for 14 years if I've known somebody for 14 years who that'll do that to my son, what says someone I've known for 5-10 minutes won't?"
According to the Marion County Sheriff's Office, Rockwell changed his story multiple times. Todd says he also lied to her. Todd explains, "He didn't know what happened he was in the house getting them juice and Gabriel fell so that's what I went to Ocala hospital telling them and they're looking at me like, are you retarded?"
When confronted by detectives that the child's injuries were not consistent with the incidents he had described. He admitted that he punched Gabriel in the back of the head for playing with an electrical outlet and later "accidentally" dropped him on concrete floor.
Todd said, "I've never seen him be violent before. I think that is why it took me by such a surprise. I've never seen him-- he's always played with them, he's always been great with them." Todd hopes that Gabriel recovers quickly and that justice is served. "He's a momma's boy… I think it may have an effect on him being around other men. I don't know and I am hoping it doesn't. I am hoping he is so young he'll bounce back from it," Todd added.
Rockwell’s next court date is on August 12th and his bond is set at $5,000.
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