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Guilty, Stupid, or Both?

It’s the type of story that talk-show hosts like to grab hold of.

“How can he be such an idiot?” they ask. One headline of a blog even referred to the man as the “sperm-donor” rather than the “father.”

Here’s what is known about what happened. Cesar Ruiz, the 19-year-old father of a 2-month-old who was very ill – gave some rum to his baby son in the hospital. He says that he saw his son in pain and wanted to help him. Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies have arrested him for attempted murder instead.

In case you are among the small percentage of people who do not realize what alcohol does to a body, keep in mind that it’s a generally well-known fact that a bigger person can handle more alcohol than a smaller person. A thin woman will get tipsy or drunk on a small amount whereas a pro-football player will need a bit more. A 2-month old baby, weighing less than ten pounds, cannot handle any.

The baby had been admitted to the pediatric unit at Ochsner Hospital because of breathing difficulties. Suddenly the baby began having seizures and when he was examined in the pediatric intensive care unit, they discovered that he had a blood alcohol level of .289, far beyond the .08 that would be considered too much for an adult to be able to drive.

Ruiz and his spokesperson say that he was just trying to ease his son’s suffering.

Thus begins the debate about whether one is not responsible for one’s actions due to ignorance of the law, or in this case, of the basic ways in which the human body works.

Some think that he did it on purpose because he didn’t want the child. It seems likely that that would be much harder, and unnecessary to prove, unless the district attorney sticks with the attempted first-degree-murder charge, or if the child dies.

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