GASTONIA, N.C. - Justin Martinez kept his head down during most of his first appearance in court.
Police said he admitted to causing permanent brain damage to his 3-month-old daughter.
They said it happened at the west Gastonia apartment where he lived with the baby and her mother.
Neighbors say they occasionally saw Martinez carrying his daughter in a car seat.
One cried when I told her what happened.
"It's sad. I don't see how anybody could do that to a child at all," said neighbor Amy Factor.
Investigators said they cannot reveal exactly what happened to the child or why she was injured. They would only say parents need to be patient with their children.
“It doesn't take but that one moment and serious injury occurs and it's a crime,” said Sgt. Gene Weaver with the Gastonia Police Department.
Police said the mother didn't know about the alleged abuse, but she noticed the baby was lethargic and wasn't acting like herself.
So two weeks ago, she took her to Gaston Memorial Hospital. Doctors called police and sent the baby to Levine Children's Hospital.
Doctors there said this injury was no accident.
“Damage cannot be reversed,” Weaver said.
The daughter is in fair condition, but her life has changed. Her father is in jail under a $300,000 bond.