A former senior official at the National Security Agency pleaded guilty in the death of his 3-year-old son, who had been adopted just months before.
Brian Patrick O'Callaghan, 38, of Damascus, Maryland, pleaded guilty to first-degree child abuse resulting in death for the death of his son Hyunsu in 2014.
"This troubling case is coming to a resolution with Mr. O'Callaghan's plea today," said Ramon Korionoff, of the state's attorney's office. "He has taken responsibility for his actions in the shocking and unfathomable death of an innocent toddler. We look forward to a stiff sentence in April."
Investigators say the little boy, who was adopted from South Korea in October 2013, had impact trauma on his body, as well as internal bleeding when he died.
O'Callaghan said that as he was helping give Hyunsu a shower Jan. 31, 2014, the boy slipped in the bathtub, falling backward and hitting his shoulder. The next afternoon, O'Callaghan said, Hyunsu was unresponsive after a nap and had mucus coming from his nose.
O'Callaghan said he took Hyunsu to a Germantown emergency room several hours later, where he was deemed to be in critical condition and possibly brain dead. Hyunsu died two days later.
Doctors said he suffered head trauma, for which O'Callaghan couldn't provide an explanation, according to charging documents. The child's skull was fractured and brain was bleeding.
O'Callaghan told the judge Monday he was taking medication for a serious mental illness. His attorney asked the judge to postpone sentencing until mental health experts could testify to O'Callaghan's history of mental illness.
That request angered Anna Lei Amoros, who described herself as representative of a group of Korean adoptees. She questioned whether the couple should have been allowed to adopt the child.
"The adoption agency that was supposed to screen them failed on that score," she said.
Prosecutors said they will probably still ask for the maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
O'Callaghan was arrested Feb. 16, 2014.
An obituary posted on the website of the Frederick News-Post gave the boy's full name as Madoc Hyeonsu O'Callaghan and said he was born in South Korea. He was described in the obituary as a "smiling, content, and loving son and brother."
"He loved his dogs, his big brother Aidan, and anything his parents made for him to eat. He wasn't dealt the simplest hand in life, but he found something to love in it every day," the obituary said.
At a hearing shortly after O'Callaghan's arrest, his attorney said O'Callaghan was a Marine veteran who had been involved in the rescue of Army POW Jessica Lynch. O'Callaghan served in the Marine Corps from 1997 through 2004 as sergeant.
According to his service record, O'Callaghan was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for nine months in 2003 and served in Al-Wasit Province, An Nasiriyah and Al Kut.