Baby Sitter Pleads No Contest to Injuring Baby by Shaking Him

A Northridge baby sitter, accused of shaking an infant boy who wouldn’t stop crying, pleaded no contest Wednesday to endangering the life of the child, who suffered brain damage.

Celia Sanchez Avila, 22, faces up to six years in prison when she is sentenced in San Fernando Superior Court on Oct. 1, Deputy Dist. Atty. Nancy A. Lidamore said.

Jury selection was scheduled to begin Wednesday afternoon for Avila’s trial when she entered the plea before Superior Court Judge John H. Major. A no contest plea is the equivalent of a guilty plea in a criminal proceeding but it cannot be used against a defendant in a civil case.

Prosecutors contended that 7-month-old Jose Rosa was the victim of “shaken child syndrome,” in which a child’s brain tears loose inside his head and slams against the skull, causing brain damage. Doctors said the child also suffered a stroke, Lidamore said.


Avila was the child’s regular baby sitter. The boy’s mother, Ana Caceras, 32, of Los Angeles, dropped off her son on the morning of May 1 and returned that afternoon to find Jose limp and pale, Lidamore said. The boy was hospitalized and doctors determined that he was severely injured, she said.

“At this time, they believe the baby will be a vegetable for the rest of his life,” Lidamore said in an interview.

Avila was caring for six children, including one of her own, at her apartment on the 19000 block of Bryant Street on the day Jose was hurt, the prosecutor said. The children ranged in age from 7 months to 5 years, she said.