Father guilty in death of son
By DAVID KARP
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 3, 2001
TAMPA -- As his 9-month-old son cried last July, Tony Lamont Bragg Sr.'s mind was on something else: a computer game called Everquest.
Authorities believe Bragg squeezed Tony Jr. to keep him quiet, then left him unattended in a utility closet in their Temple Terrace apartment for more than 24 hours. The boy died.
On Tuesday, Bragg, 24, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Bragg had been playing the online fantasy role-playing computer game for hours and appeared to get annoyed by his son's crying, said prosecutor Suzanne Rossomondo.
Bragg discovered his son by his playpen at least 24 hours after the child died. The infant's heart had been punctured, causing him to bleed to death. His ribs and left collarbone were fractured.
Prosecutors originally charged Bragg with first-degree murder, but accepted his guilty plea to the lesser charge because they did not believe he intended to kill his son. "I think it was a horrible case of neglect," Rossomondo said.
Circuit Judge Rex Barbas added five years' probation to the end of Bragg's prison sentence.
Bragg's former wife, Brandy L. Rozier, left their son with Bragg after she lost electricity at her home. She also dropped off Bragg's 4-year-old stepson.
Bragg kept his 9-month-old in a playpen in a 4- by 8-foot utility closet that contained the air conditioner and heater. Authorities found pizza in the kitchen, but an associate medical examiner said the infant was undernourished.
Bragg originally said he was carrying his son when the child's head, chest and shoulder slammed into a door frame.
Before he was supposed to drop off his son at a relative's home, Bragg noticed his son was not breathing. He called 911.
The boy's mother, who is separated from Bragg, has two other children. Both are in state custody.
Rossomondo said she told the child's mother about the plea deal. "She was very happy about it," Rossomondo said.
- David Karp can be reached at (813) 226-3376 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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