Fort Wayne man admits reduced charge in boy’s beating death

A Fort Wayne man pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge in the death of his girlfriend’s toddler son, who authorities said was battered so badly it ripped his heart in half.

Twenty-eight-year-old Shaquille Rowe pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter on Monday. If a judge accepts his plea agreement, it calls for him to spend 20 years in prison and 10 years suspended, followed by five years of probation.

His sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 12.

Rowe originally was charged with felony counts of murder, aggravated battery and neglect in the death of 17-month-old Aiden Clark in May 2021.

The Allen County Coroner’s Office ruled the child’s death a homicide and found that he died of blunt force injuries to the chest.

The boy had suffered a fractured sternum, his “heart was ripped in half,” and he suffered other injuries, including a lacerated spleen, a probable cause affidavit said.

Police said Rowe was the only adult present in a home with his girlfriend’s twin children. He told first responders he was showering when he heard crying, got out and began administering CPR to the boy after finding that he wasn’t breathing.

But officers suspected physical abuse after noticing bruising around the child’s neck and chest.

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