BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Although the medical examiner ruled the death of 7-week-old Michael Clifford Junior a homicide and police say he was shaken to death, there have been no criminal charges. But News 4 has confirmed that Erie County Child Protective Services have been involved since weeks before Baby Michael died.
And his parents, Michael Sr. and Siobhan Clifford have taken pleas in family court.
Michael took an Alford plea to child abuse — which is a way to plead guilty without admitting you did it. Siobhan pleaded guilty to child neglect for improper supervision of their late 7-week old son. Those family court charges were brought by Erie County Child Protective Services.
As News 4 reported last week, according to the autopsy report, Baby Michael had three fractures in his leg and multiple broken ribs – including some older fractures that were healing. And inside Baby Michael’s head were multiple brain bleeds and a hemorrhaged optic nerve — which police and medical experts say are all signs of shaken baby syndrome.
Michael Clifford Sr. was in family court Monday where Support Magistrate John J. Aman ordered him to start paying child support to his parents, Doug and Lynn Clifford for the care of Michael and Siobhan’s 3-year-old daughter.
Family court judge Lisa Bloch Rodwin will ultimately decide if the girl will be returned to Michael and Siobhan.
The paternal grandparents, Doug and Lynn Clifford, are hoping that won’t happen.
Again, even though Baby Michael’s death was ruled a homicide, there have been no criminal charges filed. And there may never be. Police say when being questioned, the parents asked for a lawyer and stopped helping with their investigation.
There is a family court hearing next Monday where we expect to learn more about the custody battle.
This 3-year-old daughter was 21 months old when Baby Michael was killed. But sources close to the investigation tell News 4 that at first, Siobhan told police their daughter caused the injuries to the baby by playing too rough.